Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 13, 2014

Closing-up on Mercury...
Closing-up on Mercury...

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 passes progressively closer to the Planet Mercury, we are able to see Always better resolved Surface Features in the images that the Spacecraft returns. Here, in this frame, at a pixel scale of 9 meters, we can see the Eastern Portion of an Unnamed Impact Crater approx. 13 Km (such as about 8,073 miles) in diameter. The Inner Wall of the Crater is replete (---> full of), as you can see, with smaller, superposed Impact Craters, some of which appear elongated (---> ellipsoidal), possibly because they impacted on the larger Crater's inclined Inner Wall.

Interestingly, there are also Bright Spots on the Sunlit Portion of this Unnamed Crater's Wall (Right Side - Dx - of the frame, at about 4 o'clock), and that is exctly the right place where we might reasonably expect to see, in a near future, some new "Hollows" (actually, we, as IPF, do believe that the Surface Features visible in the area indicated by NASA are ALREADY FORMED "Hollows" whose shapes and dimensions, probably, are still in course of modification).

Date acquired: March, 3rd, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 36136338
Image ID: 5862963
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 56,30° North
Center Longitude: 301,60° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 59,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 30,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 43,0°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 102,3°

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 18372) 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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