July 10, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The crater at center-right is approximately 10 km (6.2 miles) across
North is to the right in this image.
The surface of Mercury is dominated by impact craters, so it is not surprising that every so often
one crater forms atop another. In this image, a small crater formed close to the southern margin of Mercury's northern volcanic plains
, before being superposed by a slightly larger and deeper crater. This second impact removed over a third of the smaller, pre-existing crater. Yet both craters show evidence of post-formation modification, notably where their walls meet their floors. For example, a hill lies at the base of the right-hand-side wall of the larger crater. This is likely a landslide
deposit that formed when material slumped
off the wall.
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.