Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 17, 2014

Secondary Craters' Chain
Secondary Craters' Chain

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 (taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on August, 2, 2014, and approx. 6,3 Km - such as about 3,912 miles - across) shows us a series of (relatively) shallow Craters - located in the Eastern Portion of the Floor of the large Copland Crater - which are aligned in a way that looks a bit like the toes of a giant foot (perhaps with a dislocated and swollen "pinky" toe). Though Halloween is fast approaching, this scene was certainly not formed by a 100 Km tall giant stomping across the Planet, but it was rather due to the intersection of several Crater Chains created by Secondary Impacts.

Date acquired: August, 2nd, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 49288744
Image ID: 6796897
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 37,45° North
Center Longitude: 75,07° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 77,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 12,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 2,3° (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): 75,2°

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 18738) 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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