Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 9, 2015

Mercurian Volcanic Features
Mercurian Volcanic Features

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.

Since its first observation, which took place, thanks to the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft, during the late September of the AD 2009, the Mercurian Volcanic Vent Complex located to the North/East of Rachmaninoff Basin has rewarded us with remarkable views of its Explosive History. In fact, quite a few portions of the Vent are blanketed (---> fully covered) in a Layer of very Fine-Grained Material that is thought to be composed of Pyroclastic Particles, and when we last saw this Landform at very High Resolution, we were finally able to appreciate just how fine that Surface Texture is (better yet: appears).

Now, with a Surface Resolution almost 4 (four) times greater than the one obtained in the past, we can see how the Pyroclastic Deposit softened the form (---> shape) of the adjacent Impact Craters - almost like snow would do on Terrestrial Landforms. The only difference is that the Mercurian "Volcanic Snow" which created this - apparently - calm and relaxing Landscape, was a fiery, hot, and  angry snow...

Note: The left (Sx)-to-right (Dx) field of view in this image is about 7,2 Km (such as approx. 4,471 miles) across; North is up.

Date acquired: January, 25th, 2015
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 64531318
Image ID: 7861883
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 36,10° North
Center Longitude: 64,70° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 69,2° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 20,8° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 48,9° (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): 118,1°

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 19230) 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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