Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 7, 2014

On the Edge of the Darkness
On the Edge of 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.

The Rim and deeply shadowed Wall of an Unnamed Impact Crater approx. 25 Km (such as about 15,525 miles) in diameter, situated within the Volcanically Infilled Mendelssohn Impact Basin, may not - just at first sight - seem like much to write home about. But when viewed at a Resolution of about 9 meters (such as about 29,52 feet) per pixel, we get a much better understanding of the nature of Mercury's Surface.

At this Resolution, in fact, we can see the ever-smaller Impact Craters that "pepper" the whole Landscape, as well as a subtle, mottled Texture that pervades the Surface. We have, so far, seen Mercury at even Higher Resolutions, and such images provide important insights into the Geological character and History of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System. Just out of curiosity, the true dimensions of the Lansdscape caught in this frame are approx. 8,7 Km (such as about 5,402 miles) across.

Date acquired: October, 21st, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 56195973
Image ID: 7284273
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 71,50° North
Center Longitude: 105,10° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 85,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 4,9° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 20,4° (meaning that the Spacecraft was quite far from being perpendicular as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 105,5°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18974) 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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