Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 15, 2012

Flying over Mercury
Flying over 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.

In this image, Mercury's Cratered Surface stretches to the Horizon. Limb images that have been captured with the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) are a part of a MDIS imaging campaigns since the beginning of orbital operations. A few months ago, in June 2012, NAC images of Mercury's Limb were added to the regular weekly observations, resulting in a few frams each week with dramatic views of Mercury's Horizon such as seen here.
Once per week, the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) onboard the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft captures images of Mercury's Limb, with an emphasis on imaging the Limb (and Horizon) of the Southern Hemisphere. These Limb and Horizon images provide information about Mercury's actual shape and complement the measurements of its topography, as carried out by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) on Mercury's Northern Hemisphere.

Date acquired: July, 17th, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 250986760
Image ID: 2215464
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 30,3° South
Center Longitude: 59,4° East
Scale: the lenghth of the bottom of this picture is about 300 Km (such as approx. 190 miles)

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16398) 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 and forward, towards the Surface and Horizon 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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