Analysis of radio tracking data have enabled maps of the gravity field of Mercury to be derived. In this image, overlain on a mosaic obtained by MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System and illuminated with a shape model determined from stereo-photoclinometry, Mercury's gravity anomalies are depicted in colors. Red tones indicate mass concentrations, centered on the Caloris basin
(center) and the Sobkou region (right limb). Such large-scale gravitational anomalies are signatures of subsurface structure and evolution. The north pole is near the top of the sunlit area in this view.
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 four years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER's highly successful orbital mission is about to come to an end, as the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury in April 2015.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Science Visualization Studio/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.