August 19, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The diameter of the crater in the lower right is about 12 kilometers (7 miles)
This high-resolution image shows a bright, rayed crater in spectacular new detail; this crater is located just east of another small rayed crater
, imaged early in MESSENGER's orbital mission. Both of these craters are considered relatively young features on Mercury's surface, since their bowl-shaped appearance hasn't been modified and their rays haven't yet faded with time
. However, keep in mind that on Mercury, features less than about a billion years old are considered to be relatively young!
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.
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.