Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 14, 2013

Southern Terminator
Southern Terminator

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-mosaic was created by combining two frames that were taken only 96 seconds apart from each other. It is obvious that the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft has to be farther away from the Planet Mercury (and, precisely, it must be in the Southern portion of its orbit) to acquire views like these. Mercury's heavily Cratered Surface is very well and really dramatically highlighted here - particularly in the Regions near the Terminator (such as the Boundary Line existing between the Sunlit Dayside and the Dark Nightside of the Planet) -, thus reflecting its, in a way, "violent" history; an history which saw this always mysterious and fascinating Celestial Body being impacted by thousands and thousands of objects (i.e.: Meteors, Comets and, probably, even a few small Asteroids), through the ages.

Date acquired: May 7th, 2013
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 10234404, 10234500
Images ID: 4021801, 4021802
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 60,00° South
Center Longitude: 260,00° East

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 17229) 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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