March 29, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The bright crater is about 6.4 km (4 miles) in diameter.
The crater near the bottom of this image is a beautiful example of a relatively small, simple, fresh impact feature on Mercury. It illustrates the textbook characteristics of a crater in its size range. The crater is nearly bowl-shaped, with just a small flat area in the center of its floor. The walls and rim are sharp and do not appear to have suffered the collapse and terracing that modify larger craters. The bright ejecta and rays are symmetrically distributed around the crater, indicating that the body that struck Mercury to form the crater approached on a path that was not highly inclined from the vertical.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury. The mission is currently in the commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. During the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury
section of this website to learn more about the key, driving science questions of the MESSENGER mission. During the year-long primary mission, MDIS plans to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.
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.