Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 13, 2014

Pantheon Fossae
Pantheon Fossae

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.

A series of Troughs (even though - and whatever it shall be reported afterwards notwithstanding - we might also be looking at several partially filled Collapse Channels) extends diagonally (from the South/West to the North/East) across this NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's High-Resolution Image of a small portion (approx. 38 Km - such as about 23,59 miles - across) of the interior of the huge Mercurian Caloris Basin.

These Troughs, according to NASA's Planetary Scientists, are to be considered as "Graben", such as Surface Depressions (Structures) that developed (---> were created) when horizontal forces pulled the Planet's Crust apart, causing Valleys (---> Channels) to form, as (---> while) relatively large sections of the Rocky Surface dropped down between two Inward-Dipping Faults. Furthermore, a number of large and medium-sized recent (of course relatively speaking) Impact Craters also characterizes the whole scene.

Just out of curiosity, you have to consider that the so-called "Pulling-apart (---> such as the "Extensional") Deformations" are not very common on Mercury; certainly not as much common as the the so-called "Compressional Deformations"; however, a large number of Graben can be found within Caloris Basin. This specific network of Graben, named Pantheon Fossae, is the subject of a blog essay recently posted on the website of "The Planetary Society".

Date acquired: January, 19th, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 235472082
Image ID: 1285755
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 27,30° North
Center Longitude: 160,70° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 76,8° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 13,2° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 54,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 131,8°

This picture (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18061) 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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