Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 23, 2015

Hollows in Scarlatti Impact Basin
Hollows in Scarlatti Impact Basin

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 is a crop, taken from an High-Resolution View (approx. 3,8 by 4,5 Km - such as about 2,35 by 2,79 miles - across) obtained by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on August, 31st, 2014, that shows us a lot of Hollows (probably the most common unusually-looking and recently discovered, Mercurian Surface Feature) located on the South/Western Side of the Peak-Ring characterizing the Mercurian Scarlatti Impact Basin (discovered by the NASA - Mariner 10 Spacecraft and about 129 Km - such as approx. 80,109 miles - in diameter). The Hollows - as you should already know - are the irregularly shaped, bright and flat-floored Surface Depressions visible at the center of the frame.

This picture is, in fact, truly striking because it shows that there are abundant, and very small, small Impact Craters all overthe Surface surrounding the Hollows, but there are just a few - if any - within the Hollows themselves. Now, since Impact Events occur (and keep occurring) randomly over Mercury's Surface - and accumulate with time - the lack of Impact Craters on the Holows can only mean that the Hollows here (and, most likely, everywhere on Mercury) must be very "young" - relatively speaking - as to the rest of the Mercurian Surface.

This image was presented at a press conference kept at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on March, 16, 2015.

Date acquired: August, 31st, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 51805374
Image ID: 6975018
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 39,90° North
Center Longitude: 258,20° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 60,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 29,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 29,6° (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): 89,9°

This picture (which is crop taken from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 19246) 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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