Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 20, 2013


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 (formed by three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft in the month of December of the AD 2011) shows us a truly fascinating view of two extremely interesting Mercurian Impact Craters: Brontë (the large and Layered Impact Crater visible in the top right corner of the frame) and Degas (the dark gray-hued Impact Crater, with a bright and remarkably Complex Central Peak, located just underneath Brontë).

These two Impact Craters, which do lie side-by-side but that certainly did not form at the same time (since, as you can easily see, Bronte Crater is way more degraded than Degas), are located in Sobkou Planitia, a Plains Region that, most likely, formed through the action of powerful Volcanic Activities (enormous Lava Flows, to be more specific) which occurred, however, in a very far and distant past of the Planet Mercury.

Date acquired: December, 12th, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 232160712, 232160708, 232160704
Images ID: 1125985, 1125984, 1125983
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 36,44° North
Center Longitude: 231,50° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 59,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 30,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 25,2°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 85,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's false colors Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 15392) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified and then re-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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