August 14, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
7 (748 nanometers)
The diameter of the crater in the upper right portion of the image is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles)
MESSENGER images are enabling the story of Mercury's geologic history
to be told. In this scene, there was once a crater that resembled the one in the upper right. Then, volcanic lava flooded the surface
, burying the crater and leaving just an outline of the crater's rim, now seen as the "ghost crater"
located in the lower left of this image. After extensive flooding in Mercury's north
, additional cosmic bodies impacted Mercury's surface, creating the various sized craters seen here.
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.