Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 5, 2013

In the Everlasting Night of Prokofiev Crater
In the Everlasting Night of Prokofiev 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.

Prokofiev Crater, so officially named in August 2012 after the Russian composer, is the largest Impact Crater (with a diameter of approx. 112 Km - such as about 69,5 miles) located in Mercury's North Polar Region which hosts Radar-Bright Surface Material. Furthermore, the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft has also found evidence that within the cold, dark, and permanently shadowed Inner Regions of Prokofiev, Water Ice is exposed on the Mercurian Surface, just like it seems to happen on the Floors of extremely deep and steep Impact Craters and Canyons located near and at the Poles of our own Moon.


Date acquired: January, 17th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 266090610
Image ID: 3288616
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 84,90° North
Center Longitude: 68,75° East
Resolution: 70 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 84,9° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 5,1° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 6,1°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 78,8°


This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16857) 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, 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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