Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 12, 2014

Crater-Chains, Bright Rays and other interesting Mercurian Surface Features
Crater-Chains, Bright Rays and other interesting Mercurian Surface Features

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.

At the left (Sx) edge of this image-mosaic (approx. 260 Km - such as about 161,46 miles - acros) made out of three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on July, 5, 2014, we can see is a (always relatively speaking) "fresh" Impact Crater, which had been featured previously in other MESSENGER's images. Chains of (probably) Secondary Impact Craters can be seen emanating from the aforementioned "fresh" Crater, but its Rays have already nearly faded into the dark background.

On the other hand, other bright, and white Rays (very well visible in this picture) do cross the scene from the North/West to the South/East, but these are the famous Rays of Hokusai Crater, which is located over 1000 Km (such as about 621 miles) away!

Date acquired: July, 5th, 2014
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 46889179, 46889199, 46889183
Images ID: 6626955, 6626960, 6626956
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 34,02° North
Center Longitude: 39,36° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 35,5° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 54,5° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 45,6° (meaning that the Spacecraft was far away from being perpendicular to the imaged Surface at the time when the pictures were taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 78,2°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's enhanced false colors and Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18803) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, magnified to aid the visibility of the details and then re-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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