Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 22, 2013

Mena Crater
Mena Crater

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 simple, and yet very interesting picture, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on November, 13, 2013, we can get a relatively close look at the fresh, Bright-Rayed Impact Crater known as Mena (note: due to the distance between the Spacecraft and the Mercurian Surface, the Bright Rays of Mena Crater can just be barely seen in this image).

As you may want to notice, solidified Impact Melt formed some kind of a "Heart-shaped" and smooth Pond that is mostly concentrated on the South/Western Side of the Crater Floor; the quite obvious (---> very clear, easy to see) asymmetry existing between the aforementioned South/Western Side of the Floor and some (actually, a large) portion of its North/Eastern one, is due to the fact that Mena Crater did not form on a Flat Surface, but on the Sloping Rim of a much older Impact Crater (as it will be better seen tomorrow's contextual APOD).

Date acquired: November, 13th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 26657614
Image ID: 5189176
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 0,24° South
Center Longitude: 235,30° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 54,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 35,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 23,4°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 71,0°

This frame (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 17786) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected 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 Western Edge of the Mercurian Impact Crater "Mena"), 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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