April 14, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
9 (996 nanometers)
Beethoven, the large basin in the center of the image just over the terminator, is 630 km across.
This image, taken with MESSENGER's Wide Angle Camera (WAC), shows Mercury's heavily cratered surface. While Mercury's surface is often compared with that of Earth's Moon, Mercury and the Moon differ significantly in a number of important ways, including core size, presence of a global magnetic field, and surface composition. Mercury is a unique world, not just the Moon moved closer to the Sun!
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.