Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 18, 2014

Sholem Aleichem Crater and Surroundings
Sholem Aleichem Crater and Surroundings

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.

As the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft drew closer to Mercury for its historical first Fly-By, the Spacecraft's Narrow Angle Camera (or "NAC", for short) located on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (or "MDIS", for short) acquired an image-mosaic of the Sunlit portion of the Inner Planet of the Solar System. This image is one of those aforementioned mosaic-frames and it was acquired on January 14, 2008, at 18:10 UTC, when the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft was about 18.000 Km (such as approx. 11.178 miles) from the Surface of Mercury, and roughly 55 minutes before MESSENGER's Closest Approach to the Planet.

The image-mosaic shows a variety of Surface Textures, including Smooth Plains at the center of the image, many Impact Craters (some of them with well pronounced Central Peaks), as well as Rough Material that appears to have been ejected from the large Impact Crater visible in the lower right side of the picture. This approx 200 Km - such as about 124,2 miles - across Impact Crater was first seen (obviously, with much less detail) by the NASA - Mariner 10 Spacecraft, more than three decades ago and it was named Sholem Aleichem (---> after Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, better known under his "pen name" Sholem Aleichem; he was a leading Yiddish author and playwrighter who was born in Ukraine on March, 2, 1859, and died in New York City - USA - on May, 13, 1913).

In this NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's image, it can be seen that the Plains Deposits filling the Crater's interior have been deformed by Linear Ridges; the shadowed area located on the right of the image is, as you should know, the Dayside-Nightside Boundary, known as the Terminator Line.

Date acquired: January, 14th, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 108821596
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)

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 10176) 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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