Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 30, 2012


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 really beautiful and dramatic image taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft shows us the Central Peak of the Stieglitz Impact Crater, which is located high on Mercury's Northern Hemisphere. The fresh appearance of its Ejecta Deposit suggests that Stieglitz is a relatively young Crater. Intriguingly, Stieglitz also hosts some significant amounts of Radar-Bright Materials whose origin and composition is, so far, unknown.

Date acquired: August, 27th, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 254597521
Image ID: 2471477
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 72,71° North
Center Longitude: 67,90° East
Resolution: 17 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 83,4° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 6,6° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 47,6°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 130,9°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16420) has been additionally processed and then 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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