Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 27, 2014

Mistaken Identity
Mistaken Identity

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.

Is there a substantially well-preserved "Pyramidal-like Structure" on the Northern Regions of the Planet Mercury? The answer, unfortunately, is "no", even though this frame may suggest just the opposite. In fact, this Hgh-Resolution (as well as "highly misleading", in a way...) Image - approx. 8,8 Km (such as about 5,46 miles) across -, only shows us the Intersection Point of two (relatively recent, from a Geological point of view) Crater Rims.

Furthermore, and mostly on the North/West-facing Inner Slopes of the Southernmost Impact Crater, as you can see in this Absolute Natural Colors Image taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on March, 10, 2014, a Downslope Movement (probably due to the occurrence of the phenomenon known as "Gravity Wasting") of some Material located in the Upper Side of the Crater's Inner Wall has also exposed fresh and really bright Soil (whose chemical composition, however, is, so far, unknown).

Date acquired: March, 10th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 36770148
Image ID: 5908044
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 65,02° North
Center Longitude: 255,40° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 73,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 16,9° 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 18150) 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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