Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 9, 2014

Cosmic Ray in the Darkness
Cosmic Ray in the Darkness

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 features an extremely High Resolution image (approx. 3,75 Km - such as about 2,238 miles) across, of a relatively small Unnamed Impact Crater located to the South/West of Rustaveli Crater. The largest Impact Crater visible in this image is about 1,5 Km (such as about 0,9315 miles) in diameter, or less than a quarter of a mile larger than the famous "Meteor Crater" located in Arizona.

Some of the smallest Impact Craters visible in this image are only 20 to 30 meters across. These extremely High Resolution images are made possible by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's highly Elliptical Orbit. Just out of curiosity. the white streak that can be seen in the shadows of the larger Unnamed Impact Crater is a Cosmic Ray hitting the Camera's CCD.

Date acquired: August, 3rd, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 49375684
Image ID: 6803108
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 49,81° North
Center Longitude: 71,33° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 77,5° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 12,5° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 0,5° (meaning that the Spacecraft was almost perpendicular to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 78,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18735) 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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