September 13, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The largest crater is about 9 km (5.5 mi.) in diameter.
Located in Copland crater
, this image consists of three small unnamed impact craters and a contractional ridge
that was partly destroyed by the two superimposed impact craters at the center. At one point extensive volcanic eruptions took place within Copland, forming a smooth surface. As the lava
cooled it contracted, causing fractures and ridges to form. Images such as this give scientists a better understanding of the processes that accompany flood volcanism on Mercury and other planetary bodies.
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.