December 22, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Ailey crater is 21 km (13 mi.) in diameter
This image shows us a spectacular high-resolution view of newly named Ailey crater. Ailey is one of 23 Mercury craters recently assigned names
by the IAU, and is named for the 20th century choreographer and activist Alvin Ailey. Ailey was best known for his role in revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance and popularizing modern dance with pieces like his signature 1960 work, Revelations. Like its namesake, Ailey crater has revelations of its own, as landslides expose fresh material along the crater walls.
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 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are 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, 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.