May 05, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Cunningham has a diameter of 38 kilometers (24 miles)
This new, high-resolution view of Cunningham crater was recently acquired by MESSENGER. What you can't see in this image, which shows striking details of the crater's interior, is the extensive set of rays associated with Cunningham
. The bright rays of Cunningham indicate that the crater is relatively young
, having formed on Mercury likely within the last billion years. In this new view, the preserved terraces of the crater walls, the well-defined central peak, and the limited number of overlying small craters are also all signs of Cunningham's relative youth.
This image was acquired as a targeted set of stereo images. Targeted stereo observations are acquired at resolutions much higher than that of the 200-meter/pixel stereo base map. These targets acquired with the NAC enable the detailed topography of Mercury's surface to be determined for a local area of interest.
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.