April 05, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The scene is about 285 km (177 mi.) across.
The large, smooth area in the upper left is the floor of the crater Petrarch. The more rugged terrain around Petrarch has an unusual "hilly and lineated" texture that Mariner 10 team members called "weird terrain" upon seeing it for the first time. This area may have been modified by converging seismic waves and/or ejecta from the formation of the Caloris basin, which is located on the opposite side of the planet. In April 2011, MESSENGER viewed this area under differing lighting conditions than those seen
during MESSENGER's second flyby and Mariner 10's first pass.
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.