Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 8, 2013

Bek Crater
Bek 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.

In this frame, which is a composite of imagest taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft, now orbiting the Planet Mercury, shows us the beautiful Bright Rays of Bek Crater (whose diameter is about 32 Km - such as approx. 20 miles) which dominate this scene, covering a few nearby Unnamed Impact Craters with Wisps of fresh Material. On the other hand, Lermontov Crater, seen at the bottom of the image, is thought to have been the site of explosive Volcanic Eruptions.

Date acquired: April, 12th, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 211111707, 211111727, 211111711
Images ID: 122544, 122549, 122545
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 21,31° North
Center Longitude: 308,8° East
Resolution: 401 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 25,8° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 64,2° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 30,0°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 55,9°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color image mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16626) 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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