October 11, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The field of view from top to bottom is approx. 20 km (12 mi.).
This depression, some 20 km (12 mi.) in length, is situated in a crater that has been deformed by Victoria Rupes
, a long system of tectonic scarps
that corresponds to a fold-and-thrust belt on Earth. This depression is probably a vent from which volcanic material has issued. The location of the vent along the leading edge of the rupes suggests that magma may have migrated to the surface along the faults of this large tectonic system. Interestingly, although color data
indicate that pyroclastic material erupted from this vent, there is no evidence of corresponding lava flows, commonly found with pyroclastic deposits on Earth, surrounding the vent.
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury?
section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.