Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 24, 2015

Inside a Mercurian Volcanic Vent
Inside a Mercurian Volcanic Vent

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 image, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on November, 29, 2014,, shows us a small portion of the Inner Wall of a Volcanic Vent located between the Rachmaninoff Impact Basin and Copland Crater. The (relatively) quite steep and smooth Inner Wall of the Vent reveals High-Reflectance (---> high Albedo) Layers and - but we, as IPF, don not see them) Rocky Outcrops in which Hollows are (probably) forming.

Furthermore, the Inner Wall of the Vent also has beautiful Fluting (---> shallow grooves running vertically along a given surface) in the form of Gullies sculpted by Landslides. For acute observers, you may want to notice the (unusual?) presence of small Impact Craters all over on the Inner Wall itself.

Even this picture was presented at a press conference kept at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, on March, 16, 2015.

Date acquired: November, 29st, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 59620367
Image ID: 7521830
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 36,10° North
Center Longitude: 63,95° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 63,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 26,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 39,6° (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): 102,9°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 19248) 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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