Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 20, 2012

Basho Crater
Basho 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.

Today's APOD (obtained by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft during the past month of November) provides us with the best look yet at Basho Crater (approximately 75 Km - such as about 47 miles - in diameter): a (relatively) young Impact Crater located in the Southern Hemisphere of the Planet Mercury. Basho Crater features some of the most striking Albedo (---> Reflectivity) contrasts that can be found on the whole Surface of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System, with both Low-Reflectance Ejecta and High-Reflectance Deposits (probably the most "famous", common and yet highly controversial - as far as its origin is concerned -Mercurian Surface Feature ever discovered: the so-called Hollows).

Date acquired: November, 6th, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 260649832
Image ID: 2901613
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 32,47° South
Center Longitude: 189,2° East
Resolution: 103 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 32,4° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 57,6° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 4,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 32,6°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16625) 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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