February 16, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Berkel crater is 22 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter
North is toward the bottom of this image.
MESSENGER's first orbital image
, the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about Mercury, showed a large region of the planet, including the crater Berkel
. Monday will mark three years since the MESSENGER spacecraft entered into orbit about Mercury
. Over 200,000 images
have been captured since that first orbital view, including the striking image of Berkel shown here, which shows new details of Berkel's dark, low-reflectance material
, excavated during the impact that formed the crater.
This image was acquired as part of the NAC ride-along imaging campaign. When data volume is available and MDIS is not acquiring images for its other campaigns, high-resolution NAC images are obtained of the surface. These images are designed not to interfere with other instrument observations but take full advantage of periods during the mission when extra data volume is available.
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.