September 26, 2006
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
This image is a "star cal" frame collected about a month before MESSENGER's first flyby of Venus
. MESSENGER's cameras are designed to view the bright surface of Mercury, so a very long exposure time (about 10 seconds) is needed to capture a star field. Nonetheless, the data are useful in refining the camera's calibration. The bright stars seen here belong to the open cluster known as the Pleiades.
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.