Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 14, 2014

Small Impact Crater on a Ridge
Small Impact Crater on a 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.

Today's APOD is one of the Highest Resolution images that the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft has taken to date at only 3 meters (such as about 9,84 feet) per pixel. The picture features a small Ridge with a tiny and simple (---> without Terraced Walls, Double Rim and/or Central Peak) Impact Crater (approx. 366 meters - such as about 1200,48 feet - in diameter) on its Crest.

Furthermore, on the Floor of this Impact Crater, right on its Terminator Line, and even though, as we wrote before, the NASA People say that it is just a so-called "Simple Crater", something (actually, a small Vertical Relief of some kind) can easily be seen. Most likely, it is just a small Mound made of Dust and Rocks, but we, as IPF, have no way to be sure considering the data we possess. However, and as a matter of fact, it could also be an extremely small, and highly degraded, Central Peak that was just "missed" by the (usually) sharp eyes of the NASA Planetary Scientists. All that said, if you carefully look at the area around the aforementioned small Impact Crater (we mean the area illuminated by the Sun, in particular), you might be able to spot quite a few more Impact craters that are even smaller.

As the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft continues passing close to the Surface of Mercury, more High Resolution images such as this one will be taken, thus allowing Planetary Scientists (as well as the General Public) to see Mercury as it has never been seen before.

Date acquired: June, 9th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 44663950
Image ID: 6469301
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 75,38° North
Center Longitude: 64,46° East
Solar Incidence Angle: 80,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the picture was taken, was about 10,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle: 1,2° (meaning that the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft was almost perpendicular to the imaged Surface)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle: 81,1°

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 18539) 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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