Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 21, 2014

Mercurian Wrinkle Ridge
Mercurian Wrinkle Ridge

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 image, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on March, 10, 2014, we can see a small portion (approx. 6 Km - such as about 3,726 miles - across) of a so-called "Wrinkle Ridge" that is found to the North of Gauguin Crater, an Impact Feature located at a high Latitude in Mercury's Northern Volcanic Plains. Wrinkle Ridges are a relatively common Surface Features on Mercury, but when they are imaged under High Resolutions, we can get a more detailed view of these Structures than ever before.

For example, here we can see that the Leading Edge of the Ridge is actually composed of several smaller Edges. The Contact Point between the Ridge and the surrounding Smooth Plains is softened toward the bottom right of the image, but near the top-left, the aforementioned Contact Point is sharper. Continued High-Resolution Imaging of Mercury's Wrinkle Ridges will - most likely - allow Scientists to more thoroughly describe their various shapes, which in turn will probably help us to better understand, in the first place, the reason why the Ridges formed on the Innermost Planet of the Solar System.

Date acquired: March, 10th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 36741405
Image ID: 5906004
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 69,70° North
Center Longitude: 261,60° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 75,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 15,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 6,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 81,9°

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 18378) 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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