Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 13, 2013

Tolstoj and surroundings
Tolstoj and surroundings

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 of the Limb of the Planet Mercury shows, among other fascinating Surface Features, the location of the Impact Basin Tolstoj (approximately 350 Km - such as about 217,35 miles - in diameter). The interior of Tolstoj is filled with smooth Plains while the exterior is largely made of the so-called Low Reflectivity Material (or LRO, for short). Just to give to our Readers an idea of the real dimensions and proportions of what is visible on this part of Mercury, you have to consider that today's frame is approx. 2770 Km (such as about 1720,17 miles) across.

Date acquired: February 12th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 212797716
Image ID: 202274
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 8,04° South
Center Longitude: 200,07° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 60,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 29,9° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 48,1°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 96,8°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16663) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified 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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