Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 30, 2013

Bach, Han Kan and the Southern Limb of Mercury
Bach, Han Kan and the Southern Limb of Mercury

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 Southern Limb of Mercury (taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on April 23, 2013 and with a Resolution of 1612 meters-per-pixel), allows us to take a good look at some Features of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System which are all located at a very high South Latitude and from a viewpoint that is much farther away than the usual.

Prior to the MESSENGER Mission, Mercury's Surface had been often compared to the Surface of the Earth's Moon when, in fact, now we know that Mercury and the Moon are substantially different. This image, in particular, highlights many large Impact Basins that are located near the Terminator Line, including Bach Crater. Furthermore, many Complex Impact Craters with Central Peaks - as well as the bright Rays of Han Kan Crater (upper right quadrant of the picture) - are also easily visible here.

Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 9021619
Image ID: 3935783
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 73,73° South
Center Longitude: 245,00° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 77,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 12,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 50,8°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 122,6°

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 17280) 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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