Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 23, 2014

Berkel's Beauty
Berkel's Beauty

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's First Orbital Image (such as the first one ever obtained from a Spacecraft in orbit around the Planet Mercury), showed, inter alia, a large Region of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System, including the Impact Crater known as Berkel


Now, we wish to remind you that the date of March, 17, 2014, has become truly historical, because it marked exactly 3 (three) years since the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft entered into orbit around Mercury and took that first - and aforementioned - First Orbital View of the Planet. In this (obviously, relatively speking) long period of time, more than 200.000 images were captured by the Spacecraft's Cameras, and one of them - which is today's APOD - shows us the beautiful, and somehow mysterious, Berkel Crater (approx. 22 Km - such as about 13,66 miles - in diameter).


As you can clearly see, a lot of new details of Berkel Crater's Dark, Low-Reflectance Material (or "LRM", for short) - such as the Material that was excavated/unearthed during the Event that formed the Crater itself - are now extremely well defined and easily visible even to the untrained eye.


Date acquired: February, 16th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 34838972
Image ID: 5770878
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 14,11° South
Center Longitude: 26,85° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 33,2° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 56,8° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 48,4°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 30,1°


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 18123) 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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