Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 7, 2013

On the Limb (Part III)
On the Limb (Part III)

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.

Although its Geologic History was (most likely) very different from the one of our closest Celestial Neighbor, it is quite interesting to see Mercury in a (sort of) "familiar" crescent phase that we usually associate with the one of our own Moon. Even though this extreme Viewing Angle makes it hard to spot it out of the context, there is an Irregular (perhaps a Collapse?) Pit that is barely visible near the center of the Sunlit sliver of Mercury.

Date acquired: October, 9th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 23631997
Image ID: 4974136
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 53,19° South
Center Longitude: 121,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 86,8° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 3,2° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 67,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 140,3°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON-Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17622) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, 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 Limb 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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