Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 25, 2015

Small Mercurian Scarp
Small Mercurian Scarp

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.

Many of the images of Mercury's Surface which have been obtained after lowering the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's altitude, have revealed a widespread population of small Fault Scarps (see the white arrows here to identify the outline of this specific one) that can be more than an order of magnitude (---> way much) smaller in size than their larger Mercurian counterparts (like the famous Enterprise Rupes). As a matter ofact, these small Scarps visible here are less than 10 Km (such as about 6,21 miles) in length and have only a few tens of meters of relief (---> height).

They are - in a way - comparable, in size and morphology, to the small Fault Scarps imaged on the Moon by the NASA - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, thus suggesting that these small Scarps are - obviously always relatively (and Geologically) speaking - "Young", and raising the possibility that some of them are still active even today!

Center Latitude: 38,94° North
Center Longitude: 27,87° East

This picture (which is a crop taken out from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 19245) 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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