Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 15, 2014

Unnamed Crater with Hollows
Unnamed Crater with Hollows

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 NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft has now (---> actually, at the time when the pictures forming this image-mosaic were taken, such as December, 5, 2013) surpassed 200.000 oribital images of the Mercurian Surface, and there are still many more to come. In particular, acquiring Narrow Angle Camera  (or "NAC", for short) images when the Spacecraft is closest to the Innermost Planet of the Solar System is a priority for the remainder of the mission; such images, in fact, will allow the Planetary Scientists to obtain the Highest Resolution views of Mercury's Surface . For instance, this four-image mosaic shown here is one of the first from the Mercury Dual Imaging System  (or "MDIS", for short) Low-Altitude Imaging Campaign. Among the details revealed here are (let us say, "as usual") quite a few bright Hollows that appear to have formed in one of the Upper Layers located in the Northern Inner Wall (better yet, "Slopes") of this Unnamed Impact Crater (whose diameter is approx. 15 Km - such as about 9,31 miles).

This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During The NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's second Extended Mission, the Orbiter will make a progressively closer approach to Mercury's Surface than at any previous point in the Mission, thus enabling the acquisition of High-Spatial-Resolution Data. Last, but not least, for altitudes below 350 Km (such as about 217,35 miles), the NAC images shall be acquired with pixel scales ranging from about 20 meters (such as 65,6 feet) to as little as 2 meters (6,56 feet).

Date acquired: December, 5th, 2013
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 28560063/65/67/69
Images ID: 5324381/82/83/84
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 72,40° North
Center Longitude: 124,90° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 73,4° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 16,6° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 10,8°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 81,9°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17975) 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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