Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 1, 2013

Lights and Shadows at Hokusai (CTX Frame)
Lights and Shadows at Hokusai (CTX Frame)

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 frame (taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on July, 29, 2011) focuses on the Central Peaks' System and Impact Melt of Hokusai Crater (the scene here, just to give you an idea of the actual dimensions and proportions of this Mercurian Location, is approx. 28 Km - such as about 17,38 miles - across). The contrast between the illuminated - and therefore very bright (in fact, almost oversaturated) - sides of the Peaks and, on the other hand, their totally, and deeply, Dark Shadows, make this scene extremely suggestive and, in a way, also kind of romantically evocative; furthermore, it is interesting to note that the very smooth Floor surrounding the Central Peaks' System is the final result of the cooling Impact Melt (---> litterally, a "Sea of melted Rock") that was generated by the intense heat and energy which were, respectively, emanated and expressed by the Impact Event.

The Crater's name honors the Japanese painter and printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai, who was born in Edo (---> the former name of Tokyo) in the AD 1760 and where he also died, in the AD 1849. It seems that Katsushika Hokusai had a true obsession with the famous Japanese Volcano known as Mt. Fuji and, in fact, Hokusai's most well known and famous piece of art is "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (also known as "The Great Wave" or, simply, "The Wave").

Date acquired: July, 29th, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 220460258
Image ID: 566860
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 58,03° North
Center Longitude: 16,52° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 75,4° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 14,6° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 28,5°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 104,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17289) 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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