Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 19, 2013

Donalaitis Crater
Donalaitis 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-composite made of three frames, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft in August 2011, shows us the recently named Donalaitis Crater (whose diameter is approx. 84,5 Km - such as about 52,47 miles - and it lies well visible at the center of the image). As you can see, this Complex Mercurian Impact Crater exhibits some extremely unusually-looking bright yellow-orangish Deposits on its Floor. These colorful and very bright Deposits, as you may easily notice, contrast starkly with the much darker and gray colors (with pale brown/reddish nuances and some brighter white spots - where the latter could be, perhaps, some Hollows-covered areas) of the surrounding (and highly cratered) Terrain.

Donelaitis Crater was named after Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714 - 1780), a Lithuanian poet. His classic poem, 'The Seasons (Metai)', describes the lives of Lithuanian peasants, who at the time of its writing were being pushed into serfdom as most of their country was annexed by the Russian Empire.

Date acquired: August, 21st, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 222408661, 222408681, 222408665 
Images ID658976, 658981, 658977
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 51,81° South
Center Longitude: 39,11° East
Resolution: 874 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 56,2° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 33,8° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 0,5°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 55,7°

This picture (which has been cropped from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft false color image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16958) 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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