Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 8, 2014

Highly Cratered Mercurian Region
Highly Cratered Mercurian Region

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.

This image (which is approx. 280 Km - such as about 173,88 miles - wide and shows us a Mid-Northern Latitude highly Cratered Region) was acquired by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on November, 20, 2013, as part of MDIS's High Incidence Solar Angle Base Map. The High Solar Incidence Angle Base Map frames complement the Mercurian Surface Morphology Base Map Frames of MESSENGER's Primary Mission (where the frames were acquired under a generally more moderate Solar Incidence Angle). The High Solar Incidence Angle frames, which are achieved when the Sun is relatively near the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon, result in long Shadows that accentuate the Small-Scale Topography of the minor (in terms of size) Geologic Features. Last, but not least, the High Solar Incidence Angle Base Map frames are acquired with an average Surface Resolution of about 200 meters/pixel.

Date acquired: November, 20th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 27234508
Image ID: 5230158
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 44,20° North
Center Longitude: 223,30° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 60,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 29,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 55,0°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 30,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17922) 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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