Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 16, 2014

Features of the Mercurian Limb
Features of the Mercurian Limb

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 stunning Limb view of Mercury includes, among other things, the North/Eastern portion of the Caloris Basin in the foreground. Poe Crater, a large, Dark-Rimmed Crater, lies along the lower left (Sx) edge of the image. Ailey Crater's Bright Rays can be seen towards the center of the frame, while Balanchine Crater's Hollow-covered Floor is located near the lower right (Dx) corner of the image.

Date acquired: October, 18th, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 55992969
Image ID: 7269995
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 44,95° North
Center Longitude: 177,20° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 45,0° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 45,0° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 77,7° (meaning that the Spacecraft was very 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): 80,2°

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 18979) 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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