Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 13, 2012

On the Limb of Mercury
On the Limb of Mercury

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.

Even though quite a few Impact Craters are visible in this Absolute Natural Color view of Mercury's Limb, the Crater Degas (whose diameter is approx. 55 Km) gets easily noticed. Located near the center of the image, the distinctive gray color of the Low-Reflectance (---> Albedo) Material associated with Degas Crater (Material that covers most of the Floor, the Inner and Outer Rim, as well as a little bit of the Surface located in close proximity with the Crater itself) makes a clear contrast with the surrounding Terrain and neighboring Craters.

This image was acquired as a Targeted Observation that occurred simultaneously with a measurement carried out by the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS). Targeted Observations that involve both MDIS and MASCS, once the data from both instruments are combined, facilitate a better understanding of the color and reflectance of small-scale Geologic Features which are present on the Surface of Mercury.

Date acquired: October, 6th, 2012
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 258052701, 258052721, 258052705
Images ID: 2717216, 2717221, 2717217
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 35,98° North
Center Longitude: 231,2° East
Center Resolution: 533 meters/pixel

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16299) 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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