February 10, 2012
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
47° N to 59° N
321° E to 331° E
The crater just left of center is approximately 42 km (26 mi.) in diameter
: Azimuthal equidistant
This image is a portion of the MDIS global mosaic basemap
that was acquired during MESSENGER's first year in orbit. The scene, with north to the right, shows a geological feature termed Victoria Rupes
- a long cliff or scarp
that formed when Mercury shrank slightly as its core cooled. Rupes on Mercury are named for ships of discovery, and Victoria Rupes is named for the Victoria
that formed part of Ferdinand Magellan's fleet in his 1519-1522 effort to circumnavigate Earth.
This geologic feature is of particular interest to MESSENGER scientists because it is part of a larger, linear set of contractional structures that may correspond to what is termed a fold-and-thrust (FAT) belt on Earth. FAT belts are common terrestrial surface features, and form when the crust is shortened due to compressional tectonism. Identifying FAT belts on Mercury will help scientists understand in more detail how that planet's crust has deformed through time.
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, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support 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.