March 30, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
7 (748 nanometers wavelength)
The scene is about 191 kilometers across (119 miles).
This image covers an area of ridged plains to the east of the rim of Hokusai
crater on Mercury. The crater's bright rays and ejecta cross the location. The image has higher spatial resolution and a more favorable viewing angle than the coverage of Hokusai from MESSENGER's second flyby
and is just one of many images of this impact crater and its environs being collected as part of commissioning activities during MESSENGER's first orbits around Mercury. Here we see chains of small secondary craters that were formed by chunks of debris thrown out of Hokusai during its formation, surrounded by more diffuse high-reflectance rays. A very small, very bright, very fresh (young) primary impact crater and its ejecta blanket light up the top-middle part of the image. North is approximately to the top in this image.
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.