Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 19, 2013

On the Southern Limb of Mercury
On the Southern 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.

This extremely suggestive image is a mosaic of 2 (two) pictures that were acquired by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on October, 23rd, 2012, as part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System's (or MDIS for short) Limb Imaging Campaign. Once per week, the MDIS onboard the Spacecraft captures a few images of Mercury's Limb, with an emphasis on imaging its Southern Hemisphere. These Limb images, once they are carefully examined, provide us some (almost) definitive information about Mercury's actual shape and also duly complement the extremely accurate measurements of its Surface Topography, which are carried out by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (or MLA for short) on the Northern Hemisphere of the Planet.

Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 259459446, 259459541
Images ID: 2817577, 2817578
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 54,17° South
Center Longitude: 148,6° East
Resolution: 1400 meters/pixel

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w image mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16666) 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 outside, towards the Southern Limb 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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