March 30, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
7 (748 nanometers)
The horizontal width of scene is about 875 kilometers (550 miles)
Mercury's prime meridian, or 0° longitude, crosses through the left side of this image. The prime meridian was defined as the longitude where the Sun was directly overhead as Mercury passed through its first perihelion in the year 1950. The area was first seen by a spacecraft during MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby
and is located to the northwest of the impact crater Derain
. The image here has been placed into a map projection with north to the top. The original image was binned on the spacecraft from its original 1024 ° 1024 pixel size to 512 ° 512. This type of image compression helps to reduce the amount of data that must be downlinked across interplanetary space from MESSENGER to the Deep Space Network on Earth.
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury
. 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.