Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 10, 2013

Theophanes Crater
Theophanes 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.

This image, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft in the early October 2012, shows the ancient Mercurian Impact Crater Theophanes (whose diameter is approx. 46 Km - such as a little more than 28,5 miles), which was originally imaged by the NASA - Mariner 10 Spacecraft.

This Impact Crater was named after the Byzantine iconographer known as "Theophanes the Greek". Though he was born in Constantinople, the Capitol of the Byzantine Empire, around the AD 1340, Theophanes spent most of his life in Russia, where he moved in the AD 1370, and it was right there that he gained notoriety as an icon painter. Some of his more prominent works include Our Lady of the Don and the Transfiguration of Christ. He is also known as the teacher and mentor of the great medieval Russian painter Andrei Rublev, the eponym of another Impact Crater located in the Southern Hemisphere of Mercury.

As you can se, the Hollows which characterize Thophanes Crater are all concentrated in a relatively flat area going from the North-East of Theophanes' Complex Central Uplift, until its upper margin (---> Inner Rim), but only in that portion of its Floor that is located in between (approx.) 1 to 2 o'clock. The reason of such a peculiar configuration of Theophanes' Hollows is (obviuosly) so far unknown, even though we, as IPF, have a theory about it, which we shall try to explain in the future.

Date acquired: October, 3rd, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 257735204
Image ID: 2694715
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 5,04° South
Center Longitude: 217,2° East
Resolution: 74 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 69,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 20,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 2,2°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 71,6°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16868) 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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