Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 14, 2013

Common Surface Features of Mercury
Common Surface Features 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 Absolute Natural Color image-mosaic (that was obtained by putting together three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft in the month of September 2011 and which has a Mean Resolution of 1350 meters-per-pixel) emphasizes three Major Features which are very common on the Surface of the Planet Mercury: first of all, Bright Ejecta Rays, then Explosive Volcanic Vents and, last but not least, a dark Plain made of the so-called "Low Reflectance Material" (or "LRM" for short). The Bright Ray passing through the center of the mosaic, belongs to Hokusai Crater's immense System of Rays. To the right, the Arc-shaped Collapse Pit known as "Picasso" (approx. 134 Km - such as about 83,21 miles - in diameter) is very well visible, extremely distinctive in color and, as you can see, it makes a sharp contrast with the patch of Low Reflectance Material that can be easily spotted to the Pit's left (right - Dx - for the Observer).

Date acquired: September, 17th, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 224718677, 224718685, 224718679
Images ID: 769641, 769646, 769642
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 2,23° North
Center Longitude: 46,34° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 47,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 43,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 0,2°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 47,0°

This picture (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's false colors Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17373) 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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