Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 12, 2014

Deep inside Balanchine Crater
Deep inside Balanchine Crater

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.

This picture (approx. 28 Km - such as about 17,387 miles - across), which is one of the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's Highest Resolution (HR) views of the Mercurian Surface ever obtained so far, looks straight inside the beautiful Mercurian Impact Crater Balanchine, and clearly reveals the white and (extremely) bright Hollow-Field that covers a large portion of the (otherwise relatively flat) Floor of the Impact Crater itself.

However, if you take a careful look at the picture, you will be able to notice that the Hollows located inside Balanchine Crater appear to reside not just (---> only) on the its Floor, but also on a - in fact, not too vast, but, however, remarakable, in terms of space  that has been occupied - portion of its (largely slumped) Western and South/Western Inner Walls as well.

Date acquired: April, 18th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 40112892
Image ID: 6145582
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 38,18° North
Center Longitude: 175,10° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 39,9° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 50,1° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 7,9°
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 41,1°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18444) 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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