May 05, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
This image is 57 kilometers (35 miles) from corner to corner
This high-resolution image shows a region of the southern rim of the large Caloris basin
. In the center is an irregularly shaped depression
believed to be a pyroclastic volcanic vent
. In this previously posted image
, you can see this feature in the upper right as having a reddish color with a dark center. What is this dark, low reflectance material (LRM
)? That is a question being actively asked by the MESSENGER team. Most pyroclastic vents don't have this dark material, but other features do show small outcrops of it, such as Berkel
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 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are 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. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
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.