Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 18, 2014

From Molten Rock to Ice
From Molten Rock to Ice

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.

In this frame (approx. 6 Km - such as about 3,726 miles - across), taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on March, 10, 2014, we can see a lot of jumbled and cracked Rocky Material that is found on the Floor of an Unnamed Impact Crater, as well as some (relatively) smooth Regions (such as areas of the aforementioned Crater's Floor which are buried by Impact Melt). Little Rock-Bergs (---> the "Rocky" equivalent of the Icebergs), whose dimensions are going from tens to hundreds of meters across, also dot the Crater's Floor and are surrounded by a frozen "Sea" of something that once - meaning eons ago - was Molten Rock. The Sun, already quite low on the Local Horizon, is shining from the right (Dx).


Date acquired: March, 10th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 36770146
Image ID: 5908043
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 64,86° North
Center Longitude: 253,30° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 73,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 17,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 5,8°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 78,9°


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 18213) 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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