Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 15, 2013

Volcanic Feature? (CTX Frame)
Volcanic Feature? (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 Volcano-like Surface Feature, photographed by the NASA - Messenger Spacecraft on August, 16, 2011, is found within the Mercurian Impact Crater named Kipling and located in the Southern Hemisphere of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System. As a matter of fact, this specific Volcanic Feature shares several similarities with many other Pyroclastic Deposits that have been found on Mercury.

You should notice (out of curiosity) that where, on Earth, Volcanoes frequently form Mountains, on Mercury, most of the Volcanoes that have been so far identified, are characterized by the presence of Collapse Pits and/or Depressions. Often described just as "Rimless Depressions", and characterized by irregular shapes, most of the Mercurian Pyroclastic Deposits that have been discovered up to now, as far as their dimensions are concerned, always seem to show an average size that is in an order of a few tens of kilometers.

Date acquired: August, 16th, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 221974660
Image ID: 638531
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 19,15° South
Center Longitude: 71,37° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 49,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 40,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 18,1°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 31,6°

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 17407) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified, Gamma corrected and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that an average 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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