Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 2, 2014

Perpetual Night
Perpetual Night

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.

Deep inside this Simple Mercurian Impact Crater (approx. 7,2 Km - such as about 4,471 miles - across), the Sun never shines. The view that is shown here is a mosaic of two images, recently taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft and it shows us Higher-Resolution Details of the Crater's Northern Sunlit Wall, but leaving the Water Ice that may lie in the extremely cold darkness of its Floor completely invisible.

Images ID: 6624807, 6626880
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 83,8° North
Center Longitude: 38,9° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 82,8° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 7,2° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 38,9° (meaning that the Spacecraft was far away from being perpendicular to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 84,2°

This picture (which an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18968) 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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