April 05, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Li Ch'ing-Chao has a diameter of 69 kilometers (43 miles)
With the commissioning phase completed, the spacecraft and instruments have been checked out and are ready to enter the primary science phase of the mission. Over the next year, MESSENGER's suite of scientific instruments will gather unprecedented data about the Solar System's innermost planet to unravel Mercury's mysteries.
During this period, the MDIS team will be posting a new image each workday to this spot on the website. Check back often to see the latest images from the first orbital mission to Mercury!
This image was captured during the first science orbit of the mission. The crater crossing the top center of the image is Li Ch'ing-Chao. Li Ch'ing-Chao is located in Mercury's south polar region
, near Boccaccio
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution surface morphology base map. The surface morphology base map will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 250 meters/pixel (0.16 miles/pixel or 820 feet/pixel). Images acquired for the surface morphology base map typically have off-vertical Sun angles (i.e., high incidence angles) and visible shadows so as to reveal clearly the topographic form of geologic features.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and 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 science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled 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.