September 03, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
255173296, 255173291, 255173293
2512514, 2512512, 2512513
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue
Image Size: 188 km (117 mi)
The very smooth region shown in this image is a part of Mercury's vast northern plains. These smooth plains are thought to have originated as volcanic outflows, in a similar manner to those within the Caloris basin
. If you look closely, you can see several impact craters that were buried beneath the lava. These craters are known as "ghost craters
" because only faint outlines of their rims remain.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution 3-color imaging campaign. The map produced from this campaign complements the 8-color base map (at an average resolution of 1 km/pixel) acquired during MESSENGER's primary mission by imaging Mercury's surface in a subset of the color filters at the highest resolution possible. The three narrow-band color filters are centered at wavelengths of 430 nm, 750 nm, and 1000 nm, and image resolutions generally range from 100 to 400 meters/pixel 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.