Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 2, 2014

Han Kan and Friends
Han Kan and Friends

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 beautiful and highly suggestive view - taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on November, 13, 2013 - we can see the large, long, and extremely bright Rays of the Impact Crater known as Han Kan (approx. 50 Km - such as a little more than 31 miles - in diamter) crossing a large portion of the Surface of Mercury's Southern Hemisphere. Vincente Crater (approx. 108 Km - such as a little more than 67 miles - in diameter) is also visible near the middle left of the scene (towards the left - Sx) and it can be easily identified by its relatively smooth Floor. Dickens Crater (approx. 77 Km - such as about 47,81 miles - in diameter) and Keats Crater (which, just like Vincente Crater, is approx. 108 Km - such as a little more than 67 miles - in diameter) are just in view, near the Limb.

Date acquired: November, 13th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 26656707
Image ID: 5189173
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 60,00° South
Center Longitude: 221,40° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 67,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 22,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 68,0°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 63,0°

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 17920) 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 Southern 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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