March 29, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
300 meters/pixel (0.19 miles/pixel)
Debussy crater has a diameter of 80 kilometers (50 miles)
Bright rays, consisting of impact ejecta and secondary craters
, spread across this NAC image and radiate from Debussy crater, located at the top. The image, acquired yesterday during the first orbit for which MDIS was imaging
, shows just a small portion of Debussy's large system of rays in greater detail than ever previously seen. Images acquired during MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby showed that Debussy's rays extend for hundreds of kilometers
across Mercury's surface. Debussy crater was named in March 2010
, in honor of the French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918).
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury
. The mission is currently in its commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. In the course of the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
will unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury?
section of this website to learn more about the science questions that the MESSENGER mission has set out to answer.
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.