Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 6, 2013

Mercurian Flare or Fake? (CTX Frame and EDM)
Mercurian Flare or Fake? (CTX Frame and EDM)

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 beautiful and, as you can see, deeply suggestive image has been recently taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft, while it was imaging the Limb of the Planet Mercury. What you see here could reasonably be an "Outgassing" - like the controversial ones which, sometimes, have been seen occurring on our Moon (actually, the so-called "Outgassings" are events in which Volatile-rich Materials are vented from deep inside the Lunar Interior, up to the Lunar Surface - specifically, we can think about Elements like Radon, Nitrogen, Carbon Monoxide, and/or Carbon Dioxide - and which might be the visible result of Low Level (---> Residual) Lunar Volcanic and/or Tectonic Activities). These Outgassing Phenomena, as you should know, are commonly put in the Cathegory of the so-called "Transient Lunar Phenomena" (or TLP, for short).-


On the other hand, this "Flare" might also be the result of an extremely unlikely (but yet possible) Residual Active Volcanic Activity (so, in this scenario, we would be looking at an actual Volcanic Plume) which happened on the innermost Planet of the Solar System: a Planet that has always been considered by the Planetary Scientists - as well as by the General Scientific Community -, like a (Geologically speaking) "Completely Dead Celestial Body".


It is also possible (even though we, as IPF, believe that this very last hypothesis is the least likely of the three) that the "Flare-like Light" seen here, on the Mercurian Limb, could be the evidence of an Impact (i.e.: a Meteor Strike) that has just occurred. However, if this hypothesis were true, we could also assume, just by looking at the shapes of both the Main Plume and the Upper Cloud which can be seen right on top of the Plume itself, that the Celestial Object that hit the Surface of Mercury should/must have followed a nearly (---> almost perfectly) Vertical Impact Trajectory (and this is another rather unlikely - better yet: extremely rare - circumstance).


This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16909 - but now, as we wrote herebefore, removed) 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.


Important Note for the Readers: the People working at NASA for The MESSENGER Team implied that this picture was (once again, after "Caduceus") some sort of "practical joke", created to celebrate the Worldwide famous "April Fools' Day". Well, we, as IPF, believe that if this picture, as it seems, is actually a "joke" (---> a fake, in this case), it really is a VERY, VERY poor and stupid one. Please, forgive us for being so direct, but even though some People may think that this idea of making a practical joke out of a MESSENGER b/w frame was "funny" and "educational" (and, in a pretty distorted way, it probably was so), we honestly believe that this silly "stunt" only proves, in a LOUD and CLEAR WAY, how easily, once you have the right REPUTATION, skills and means, the original RAW image-data received from Space can be corrupted/tampered with, either by adding or by removing Features.


As you can also easily understand, the implications arising out of this "stunt" are, actually, countless and, in a way (like we already underlined in the past), quite disturbing...


For your reference and information, please visit http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/sciencePhotos/image.php?gallery_id=2&image_id=1133



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