March 07, 2015
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 13.6 km (8.5 mi.) across
North is up in this image.
It is no secret that Mercury's surface is scarred by abundant tectonic deformation
, the vast majority of which is due to the planet's history of cooling and contraction through time. Yet Mercury is also heavily cratered
, and hosts widespread volcanic plains
. So it's perhaps unsurprising that these three types of landform often intersect—literally—as shown in this scene. Here, an unnamed crater, about 7.5 km (4.7 mi.) in diameter was covered, and almost fully buried
, by lava. At some point after, compression of the surface
formed scarps and ridges in the area that, when they reached the buried crater, came to describe its curved outline. Many arcuate ridges on Mercury formed this way. In this high-resolution view, we can also see the younger, later population
of smaller craters that pock-mark the surface.
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.