Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 11, 2013

Southern Craters
Southern Craters

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.

The set of 3 (three) frames shown here in Absolute Natural Colors and forming this image mosaic, was acquired by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft as part of a sequence intended to monitor any changes in the calibration of the Multispectral Wide Angle Camera onboard the Spacecraft over time. However, the final result of this "calibration" also gives us a simply beautiful view of a wide portion (the whole scene is approx. 1900 Km - such as a little less of 1180 miles - across) of Mercury's heavily cratered Southern Hemisphere. Furthermore, the Impact Craters Magritte, Neruda, and Sher-Gil can be easily spotted within this scene. North is towards the top-left of the image.

Date acquired: December, 17th, 2012
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 264237810, 264237814, 264237830
Images ID: 3157538, 3157539, 3157543
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 59,16° South
Center Longitude: 149,3° East
Resolution: 1663 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 59,2° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 30,8° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 28,8°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 78,1°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft color image mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16820) 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 outside, 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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