Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 12, 2013

Volcanic Vent on the Edge of Caloris Basin
Volcanic Vent on the Edge of Caloris Basin

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 kidney-shaped Surface Depression (which is approximately 23 Km - such as 14,283 miles - across its longest dimension) lies along the Inner Margin of the giant Caloris Basin and it was first imaged during the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's first Fly-By of the innermost Planet in the Solar System, about 2 years ago. The Rimless, non-circular Surface Depression is, in fact, the Vent of a small, explosive Volcano, and it is similar to many other Volcanic Vents that have been discovered on Mercury. The small number of superposed Impact Craters indicates that this Feature is, just in a manner of speaking, relatively "young" as to the surrounding Terrain. Notice, also, the considerable number of bright Hollows that seem to characterize a large portion of the Inner Rim as well as the East-facing Slopes of the small Impact Crater located right outside the Eastern Margin of the Vent, at about 4 o'clock of the Main Feature.

Note: for another view of this Volcanic Vent and its extremely interesting surroundings (seen on a larger scale), please refer to the APOD of December, 22nd, 2012.

Date acquired: June 7th, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 215894570
Image ID: 347724
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 22,5° North
Center Longitude: 146,1° East
Resolution: 28 meters/pixel
Solar Incidence Angle: 39,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 50,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 45,5°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 78,3°

This picture (which has been cropped from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 15245) 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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