Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 30, 2013

The Dark Berkel Crater
The Dark Berkel 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.

Berkel Crater (a Mercurian Impact Crater that was so named after the Turkish painter and printmaker, Sabri Berkel) is a so-called "Complex Impact Crater" (approx. 24 Km - such as a little less than 15 miles - in diameter) that sits inside the larger Ellington Basin, which is located in the low Latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere of Mercury. Berkel's interior contains some kind of Material (so far unknown) that, as you can clearly see in today's image, is way darker than the surrounding Terrain; furthermore, a large number of the vey common Mercurian Surface Features, known as "Hollows", can also be seen all over the Floor of the Crater itself.

This image was acquired as a targeted set of stereo images. Targeted Stereo Observations are acquired at resolutions much higher than that of the 200-meter/pixel Stereo Base Map. These targets acquired with the NAC enable the detailed Topography of Mercury's Surface to be determined for a local area of specific interest.

Date acquired: February, 5th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 4159492
Image ID: 3589683
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 13,85° South
Center Longitude: 26,56° East
Resolution: 71 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 30,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 59,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 29,3°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 52,6°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16890) 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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