Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 1, 2012

Ailey's Features
Ailey's Features

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 image-composite shows us the Mercurian Impact Crater Ailey, with its very (and unusually) bright Floor and multi-colored Rays and surrounding Terrain. Note that the circumstance of bright and dark Rays emanating from the same Crater (as well as the fact that the Terrain surrounding the Crater shows, in almost every direction, different colors - if you look at the picture carefully enough, you will notice that large patches of Terrain showing different shades of orange, white and black are easily visible near and all around Ailey) is a clear indication of the existence of an heterogeneous Surface and Subsurface Composition (meaning, in other words, the presence of a more than discrete Mineralogical Variety of both the Surface and Subsurface - with the latter being exposed as an obvious consequence of the Impact Event).

Date acquired: June, 15th, 2012
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 248260268, 248260260, 248260264
Images ID: 2020943, 2020941, 2020942
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 45,58° North
Center Longitude: 176,6° East
Resolution: 164 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 46,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 43,9° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 0,2°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 46,3°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16383) 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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