August 03, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The image is approximately 3.75 km (2.33 mi.) across.
Today's image features an extremely high resolution
image of a small crater southwest of Rustaveli
crater. The largest crater in this image is about 1.5 km (0.93 mi.) in diameter, or less than a quarter of a mile larger than Meteor Crater in Arizona. Some of the smallest craters visible in this image are only 20-30 m across. These extremely high resolution images are made possible by MESSENGER's highly elliptical orbit
. The white streak that can be seen in the shadows of the crater is a cosmic ray hitting the camera's CCD
This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During MESSENGER's second extended mission, the spacecraft makes a progressively closer approach to Mercury's surface than at any previous point in the mission, enabling the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution data. For spacecraft altitudes below 350 kilometers, NAC images are acquired with pixel scales ranging from 20 meters to as little as 2 meters.
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.