Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 21, 2014

Couperin Crater
Couperin 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.

The largest Impact Crater visible in this Absolute Color Image-Mosaic (approx. 240 Km - such as about 149,04 miles - across) obtained by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on June, 10th, 2012, is Couperin Crater, roughly 85 Km (such as about 52,785 miles) in diameter. Couperin Crater is slightly elongated from West-North/West to East-South/East, and this circumstance is partly due - according to NASA Planetary Scientists - to a substantial Wall Collapse that has formed, in time, clearly visible Terraces (or "Slumps", which are generally caused by Rocky and Dusty Material collapsing - "falling" - down the Steep Walls of the Impact Crater).

Some Low Reflectance Material (or "LRM", for short) dominates most of the Surface around the Crater's exterior, while its interior consists of Material that is not as dark, and which has a reddish color in some places. The small Central Peak appears to be composed of LRM however. Several Bright Ray Segments cross Couperin Crater as welll as the Surrounding Plains.

Date acquired: June, 10th, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 247799000, 247798992, 247798996
Image ID: 1988163, 1988161, 1988162
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 28,80° North
Center Longitude: 206,60° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 40,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 49,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 0,1° (meaning that the Spacecraft was almost perpendicular as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 40,8°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's false colors and Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18994) 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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