Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 1, 2013

Winged Beauty (Part I)
Winged Beauty (Part I)

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.

In this beutiful image-mosaic (obtained by putting togerther three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on August, 19, 2011) we can see a (relatively) fresh and really bright Unnamed (and elongated) Impact Crater, which - most likely - was created by an Impactor that struck the Mercurian Surface at an oblique (---> low) angle, causing most of the Ejecta to be thrown out unevenly around the Crater (notice the Bright Rays above, below, and to the right of the Crater itself). The marginally Bright Material visible in the lower left corner of the Mosaic, is actually a small portion of a Ray coming from the huge Hokusai Crater, which is over 1380 Km (such as about a little less than 857 miles) away!

The Planet Mercury, as you know, was so named after the Roman Messenger God Mercury (and identified with Hermes in the Greek Mythology) and a key feature about the God Mercury, is found in his winged sandals. Mercury's role as the God of communication and messages obviously (and deeply) influenced the name chosen for the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft.

Date acquired: August, 19th, 2011
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 222275999, 222275995, 222275991
Images ID: 652862, 652861, 652860
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 27,84° North
Center Longitude: 30,73° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 31,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 58,9° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 37,2°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 68,3°

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 17435) 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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