October 21, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The left-to-right field of view in this image is about 8.7 km (5.4 mi.) across
North is down in this image.
The rim and shadowed wall of a nondescript crater 25 km (approx. 16 mi.) in diameter, situated within the volcanically infilled Mendelssohn
basin may not seem like much to write home about. But when viewed at a resolution of about 9 meters (30 ft.) per pixel, we get a much better understanding of the nature of Mercury's surface. At this resolution, we can see the ever-smaller impact craters
that pepper the landscape, as well as a subtle, mottled texture that pervades the surface. We have seen Mercury at even higher resolutions
, and such images provide important insights into the geological character of the innermost planet.
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. In the mission's more than three years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 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.