Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 22, 2014

Possible Volcanic Vents on Mercury
Possible Volcanic Vents on Mercury

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-mosaic, made out of three frames taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on July, 3, 2014, shows us an area located to the North of Rachmaninoff Crater which features a possible Volcanic Vent to the East and an expanse (---> large area) of Terrain that appears light-brown with orange nuances (in this Absolute Natural Color view), to the West.

Notice that the Surface Depressions of an orange-yellow color and irregular shape, are quite similar to other (possible) Volcanic Vents already found on Mercury. To the West of the large Vent there is an Impact Crater (which is about 20 Km - such as approx. 12,42 miles - in diameter) with an orange, irregularly shaped depression on its Floor that may also be a Volcanic Vent. Remember that Volcanic Vents on Mercury are (usually) indicative of the occurrence of Explosive Volcanism that was widely prevalent in Mercury's far and distant past.

Date acquired: July, 3rd, 2014
Images Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 46686728, 46686748, 46686732
Images ID: 6612580, 6612585, 6612581
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 36,10° North
Center Longitude: 54,93° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 40,6° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 49,4° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 39,4° (meaning that the Spacecraft was quite oblique as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 78,0°

This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's false colors and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18681) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, magnified to aid the visibility of the details and then re-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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