September 17, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
10 (898 nanometers)
The distance from the central peak to the crater rim is about 43 km (26.7 miles).
This image, taken with the Wide Angle Camera (WAC)
, shows an unnamed complex crater not far from Mercury's northern pole. Though small, the image still gives us an excellent view of many of the crater's features, including a central peak and its shadow, some smooth impact melt pools on the rim, secondary crater chains and clusters on the smooth floor, and an un-weathered ejecta blanket. The impact melt pools and texture of the eject blanket suggest that this is a relatively young crater. The small size of the image is due to binning, a data processing technique in which data volume is reduced by combining groups of pixels into a single pixel, reducing the overall number of pixels and thus reducing the size of the image data file that must be stored on the spacecraft and transmitted to Earth.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's color base map. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel). The highest-quality color images are obtained for Mercury's surface when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead, so these images typically are taken with viewing conditions of low incidence and emission angles.
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.