Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 24, 2014

To Ngoc Van (High Emission Angle)
To Ngoc Van (High Emission Angle)

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.

The Mercurian Impact Crater To Ngoc Van (approx. 71 Km - such as a little more than 44 miles - in diameter), named after a Vietnamese painter, is clearly visible seen at the top of the image, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on November, 19, 2013. The oblique viewing angle provides us not only with a great view into the irregularly shaped Pit located within To Ngoc Van Crater, which is thought to have formed through a phenomenon of Explosive Volcanism but also with a very solid evidence for Mercury's Geologically Active Past.

Just out of curiosity, many of the smaller (approx. 5 to 10 km across - such as about 3,1 to 6,21 miles) Unnamed Impact Craters also visible throughout this whole scene were produced as Secondary Impacts from the Ejecta of the nearby located Ahmad Baba Crater. North is to the left (Sx) in this frame.

Date acquired: November, 13th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 27148228
Image ID: 5223996
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 53,36° North
Center Longitude: 239,60° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 73,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 16,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 65,6°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 30,0°

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 17884) 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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