Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 21, 2013

Kosho Crater: the Central Peak (EDM)
Kosho Crater: the Central Peak (EDM)

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 Extra Detail Magnification (or "EDM" for short) has been obtained by a NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's picture taken on September, 17, 2013, and it shows us the Complex and extremely unusually-looking Central Peak of the Mercurian Impact Crater named "Kosho" (a Crater which sits in a relatively high Latitude of Mercury's Northern Hemisphere). Kosho Crater, which is approx. 65 Km (such as ~ 40,36 miles) in diameter, is a Complex Crater characterized, as we mentioned herebefore (and as you can easily notice by yourself), by a very peculiar and really pointed Central Peak that, if you look closer, shows a long and - relatively large - Latitudinal Crack that goes all the way through the bottom to the top of the Peak itself.

As a matter of fact, the long shadow projected by the Peak, which is so well visible in this image EDM, is due to the fact that the Sun was VERY low on the Local Horizon - only 6,7° - at the time when the picture was taken; as a consequence of such an Illumination Geometry, the shape and dimensions of the Peak - which is approximately 2 Km (such as ~ 1,24 miles) high - got dramatically accentuated.

The Impact Mechanics that caused such a peculiar Construct are still unknown, but we, as IPF, believe that there could be at least 3 (three) reasonable explanations to be taken into account during an attempt to the explain this Feature: the first possibility to consider, relates to the verifcation, in a very far and distant (let's say, remote) past of Mercury, of a large magnitude's Tectonic Event which caused the Peak to fracture; the second one, could be found in the action of a single and extremely strong (or, maybe, by a series of intense) Seismic Wave(s) which affected the entire Region. The last possibility, then, is that the fracturing of the Peak was a consequence of a single and powerful (or, even in this case, by a series of intense) Shock Wave/s that reached the area that is now being investigated, after the verification of another significant (in terms of Magnitude) Impact Event that occurred in the proximities of Kosho Crater. Of course, all these three posiibilities may be wrong and, we know it very well, what actually caused the Central Peak of Kosho Crater to (litterally) "split" may remain a mistery that shall never be solved.

Date acquired: September, 17th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 21703926
Image ID: 4836915
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 60,01° North
Center Longitude: 220,20° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 83,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 6,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 55,3°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 28,0°

This picture (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17529) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, furtherly magnified to aid the visibility of the details 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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