Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 7, 2014

Li Po Crater
Li Po 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.

The lower half of this image taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on October, 29, 2011, is dominated by the large, and highly degraded Impact Crater named Li Po (approx. 115 Km - such as about 71,415 miles - in diameter), after a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty who lived from the AD 701 to the AD 762, and who he's also known as "Li Bai". He is famous for poems about friendship, nature, and the drinking of wine. It is said that he drowned when he reached from his boat, trying to catch the Moon's reflection in a river.

Date acquired: October, 29th, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 228371401
Image ID: 945802
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 18,10° North
Center Longitude: 324,20° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 78,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 11,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 7,3° (meaning that the Spacecraft was not exactly perpendicular to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 78,7°

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 18726) 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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