Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 19, 2013

The North Polar Regions of Mercury (CTX Frame)
The North Polar Regions of Mercury (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 image-mosaic, obtained by putting together three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft in the month of June of the AD 2012, highlights the very rough terrain (---> highly irregular, such as full of Impact Craters, Canyons, Rdges, steep Hills and Mountains etc.) that is present in an Area located in the North Polar Regions of the Planet Mercury.

As a matter of fact, we believe that it is really challenging (as well as highly suggestive) to try to imagine to walk on the Terrain that is found neat and at the North Pole of Mercury, because the Sun - at those Latitudes - is always low on the Local Horizon, and therefore the incoming intense Sunlight is very fit to cause the creation of extremely long, dark and sharp shadows. In this case, as you can see (and as it was mentioned herebefore), all the visible sharp and dark shadows dramatically accentuate the already extreme roughness of the Local Topography.

Date acquired: June, 22nd, 2012
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 248865807, 248865802, 248865804
Images ID: 2064058, 2064056, 2064057
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 84,33° North
Center Longitude: 150,10° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 84,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 5,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 28,7°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 84,9°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's false colors and Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17380) 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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