Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 11, 2013


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 Mercury's Southern Hemisphere shows us the large size-variations, as well as the multiple generations of Impact Craters which are found in this specific Region of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System. Just out of curisity, you should know that Mercury's Southern Hemisphere is much easier to image as to the Northern one, and this circumstance is due to the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's (highly) elliptical orbit (however, this specific kind of orbit, it is also fit to prevent the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft from being able to acquire High Resolution Images of the Mercurian Surface, like the ones, instead, which are so easily taken in the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury).

Well, as you know, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"....

Date acquired: February, 8th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 2613780
Image ID: 3479116
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 80,38° South
Center Longitude: 302,40° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 85,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was only about above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 25,8°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 59,1°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17394) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, 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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