Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 23, 2014

Mercurian Nightfall (EDM)
Mercurian Nightfall (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.

With the Sun already extremely low in the Sky over this Mercurian Region located in the Northern Hemisphere of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System (the Sun is only about above the imaged Local Horizon), the long, deep and dark Shadows created by this specific Spatial Configuration, accentuate the very uneven (---> highly irregular) nature of the Terrain.

This picture, which is just a Magnified Crop taken from yesterdy's frame, shows, to the most attentive Viewers, a very unusually-looking Surface Feature whose origin and nature cannot be identified with certainty. However, it could - probably - be an oblong Secondary Crater with a strange - and still illuminated - Central Peak, or, maybe, a Wall-like Relief that divides the Floor of a Pit Crater. Again, as we said herebefore, a definitive answer about what we are actually looking at, cannot be given at this time.

The Feature here, if you wish to take a look at yesterday's Contextual Image, is located on the lower portion of the frame, slightly towards the left (Sx).

Date acquired: November, 12th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 26543484
Image ID: 5181047
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 67,11° North
Center Longitude: 249,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 82,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 8,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 36,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 118,9°

This picture (which is a crop taken by an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON-Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17827) 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 outside, 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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