September 07, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The image is 385 kilometers (239 miles) from corner to corner.
In March of 2013
, the large crater towards the north of this image was given the name Roerich, the dark shadowed crater along its southern rim was named Lovecraft, and the central peak crater in the southeast was named Hurley.
Because of the small axial tilt
of Mercury's pole of rotation, several of the craters in this south polar
image are shrouded in permanent shadow. Earth-based radar observations have found that these craters also host radar-bright material that is likely water ice
. In the furthest southern portion of this image, the rim of the large crater Chao Meng-Fu
rises from the darkness.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution surface morphology base map. The surface morphology base map covers more than 99% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 200 meters/pixel. Images acquired for the surface morphology base map typically are obtained at off-vertical Sun angles (i.e., high incidence angles) and have visible shadows so as to reveal clearly the topographic form of geologic features.
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.