September 04, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
This image is about 20 km (12 mi.) across.
This surface, located around the central peak ring of the crater Praxiteles
, exhibits the effects that both hollows and pyroclastic deposits can have on pre-existing features. The peak ring
(located to the left of this image) can be thought of as being eroded or depressed from the combination of such features. Pyroclastic deposits disturb surface material through volcanic-like events, and hollows are believed to be caused by the sublimation of volatiles
, which release sub-surface material and depress the surface even further.
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.