Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 8, 2014

Mercurian Massif
Mercurian Massif

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 a Massif located to the South/West of Paestum Vallis and to the South/East of Timgad Vallis. Though it may look similar to an Impact Crater's Central Peak, a deeper examination of its Geological Context reveals that it is part of a Ridge made out of Older Terrain, extending just beyond the end of Timgad Vallis. This frame is approx. 20 Km (such as about 12,42 miles) across.

Date acquired: October, 18th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 55992310
Image ID: 7269935
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 59,23° North
Center Longitude: 122,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 73,9° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 16,1° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 4,1° (meaning that the Spacecraft was quite close 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): 78,0°

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 18971) 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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