November 06, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Chao Meng-Fu has a diameter of 129 km (80 miles)
Located very near Mercury's south pole
, the crater Chao Meng-Fu receives only grazing sunlight. In fact, MDIS's WAC south polar monitoring campaign
has revealed that much of Chao Meng-Fu's floor receives no sunlight at all. In this NAC image, some of the central peaks of Chao Meng-Fu, illuminated by the low sun, can be seen peeking up from the crater's floor and casting long shadows across the crater.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's campaign to monitor the south polar region of Mercury. By imaging the polar region every four MESSENGER orbits as illumination conditions change, features that were in shadow on earlier orbits can be discerned and any permanently shadowed areas can be identified after repeated imaging over one solar day. During MESSENGER's one-year mission, MDIS's WAC is used to monitor the south polar region for the first Mercury solar day (176 Earth days), and MDIS's NAC is used for imaging the south polar region during the second Mercury solar day.
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.