When Mariner 10 flew by Mercury in 1974, morning sunlight was just striking Mozart crater so that most of the feature was hidden in darkness near the terminator. During MESSENGER's Mercury flyby on January 14, 2008, Mozart was in full sunlight, allowing the crater to be seen in detail for the first time, as shown in this image snapped by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). Named in honor of the classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mozart is the large crater near the center of the image. The crater's diameter is about 225 kilometers (140 miles). The arc of dark hills visible on the crater's floor probably represents remnants of a central peak ring, similar to that shown in the January 30 image release.
Clues to the origin of the dark material on the peak ring and the curious dark streaks radiating outward from the crater will be provided by 11-color image data collected by the spacecraft's Wide Angle Camera (WAC). A close inspection of the area around Mozart crater shows many long chains of secondary craters, formed by impact of material thrown out during the formation of the main crater. Mozart crater is located just south of the Caloris basin and can be identified in the false color image previously released.
Members of the MESSENGER Science Team are currently studying and characterizing the small craters on Mercury in order to provide new insight into the cratering process as it operates on the different planets in the Solar System.
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 108830250
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.