December 17, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
6 (433 nanometers)
The scene is about 940 km (580 mi.) across
North is to the top right of the image
The human eye is sensitive to light with wavelengths from about 400 to 700 nanometers (nm). We perceive light from the short-wavelength end of this spectrum as violet or indigo. Today's image was taken through a filter with a center wavelength of 433 nm, corresponding to these indigo colors. Named craters in the scene include Zeami
, Rublev, and the Tolstoj basin.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's 8-color base map. The 8-color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and covers more than 99% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/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, 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.