Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 9, 2014

Unnamed Simple Crater
Unnamed Simple Crater

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.

As you should know, the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft flies over the Surface of Mercury at several kilometers per second. Have you ever wondered what it would look like to be there in person, able to look out the window of your Spacecraft and survey the Landscape below? If you did, you might see a vista like the one in this image. Here, we see a small, Simple Unnamed Impact Crater situated on the Eastern Rim of the larger Verdi Impact Basin, which is approx. 145 Km (such as about 90,045 miles) in diameter. With the Sun shining from the left (Sx - West) of our field of view, the East-facing Wall of thi Unnamed Crater is in almost complete shadow. At this altitude, we can see smaller, superposed Impact Craters down to about 60 meters (such as approx. 196,799 feet) in diameter.

There are also some very subtle (---> barely visible) Striations al the way along the large Crater's North-facing Wall, which, according to NASA, should have formed by the Down-Slope Movement of Rocky and Dusty Material (a consequence of the occurrence of a Gravity Wasting Phenomenon or, maybe, the aftermath of some Residual Seismic Activity? Or, perhaps, the Shockwaves coming from another Impact which took place not too far away? No one knows for sure...) that happened, obviously, after this Crater formed.

Date acquired: October, 5th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 54856392
Image ID: 7190091
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 64,4° North
Center Longitude: 194,4° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 64,5° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 25,5° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 51,9° (meaning that the Spacecraft was far away 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): 116,4°

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 18976) 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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