March 30, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
290 meters/pixel (0.18 miles)
Boccaccio crater has a diameter of 142 km (88 miles)
Giovanni Boccaccio was a 14th century Italian poet and novelist. The 142-km-diameter crater at the top of this MESSENGER NAC image was named for Boccaccio after Mariner 10 imaged the region during its second Mercury flyby in 1974. This MESSENGER NAC image reveals the crater under different lighting conditions than at the time of the Mariner 10 flyby. Boccaccio has a prominent central peak, which was formed by uplift from beneath the surficial material at the point of impact.
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft 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. 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.