February 08, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
9 (996 nanometers)
The complex crater in the center of the image is 151 km in diameter (94 miles).
This image of Mercury's southern hemisphere
shows the large size variation and multiple generations of impact craters
on Mercury. Mercury's southern hemisphere is easier to image due to MESSENGER's elliptical orbit
, but this orbit also prevents acquisition of high resolution images like those taken in the northern hemisphere.
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.