Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 19, 2012

Features of Rustaveli Crater
Features of Rustaveli Crater

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

This Absolute Natural Color Image-Mosaic obtained by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft shows the Rustaveli Crater, a newly named Impact Basin - whose diameter is about 180 Km, such as approx. 112 miles - that is located in the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury. The Basin has a smooth, filled Floor - with little weathering - and a Peak-ring Structure; its Rim, however, shows clear signs of heavy degradation, thus making Rustaveli a very old Impact Crater.

Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet who lived from 1172 to 1216. He is well known for writing the Georgian National Epic Poem, "The Knight in the Panther's Skin". He is also the namesake of the coveted Shota Rustaveli State Prize, the highest honor a Georgian artist or writer can achieve.

Date acquired: July, 18th, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 219478808, 219478804, 219478800
Images ID: 519956, 519955, 519954
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 52,40° North
Center Longitude: 81,79° East
Resolution: 187 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 59,8° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 30,2° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon at the time that the pictures were taken)
Emission Angle: 30,6°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 90,4°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16359) has been additionally processed and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft and then looked down, towards the Surface of Mercury), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Mercury, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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