Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 24, 2013

Dark Waters...
Dark Waters...

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 picture, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's Wide Angle Camera (or WAC, for short) on April, 14, 2011, shows us (with a Resolution of 884 meters-per-pixel) a large portion of the Planet Mercury, as well as a portion of its Southern Hemisphere's Limb. Prominent, in this image, is Waters Crater, which is very well visible in the lower right corner of the frame (and so recently named in honor of the Blues legend "Muddy Waters" - Mc Kinley Morganfield, born in Issaquena County - Mississippi - USA -, on April 4, 1913 and deceased in Westmont, Illinois, on April 30, 1983). Waters Crater is very distinctive because of its bright Rays which make a strong contrast with a large and dark Impact Melt Flow that can be seen in its center. Also easily identifiable in this picture are Beethoven Basin, as well as the Impact Craters Bello, Rumi and Philoxenus.

Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 211284337
Image ID: 130687
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 21,12° South
Center Longitude: 249,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 69,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 20,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 63,7°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 28,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w NON Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17291) 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 outside, towards the Limb 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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