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Dark Side of the Force
Click on image to enlarge.
Dark Side of the Force
Release Date: August 12, 2013
Topics: Crater Rays, Craters with Dark Material, Hollows, NAC, Named Craters



Date acquired: August 30, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 223185654
Image ID: 695876
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -40.07
Center Longitude: 345.8 E
Resolution: 98 meters/pixel
Scale: Matabei is 24 km. in diameter (15 mi.)
Incidence Angle: 42.4
Emission Angle: 6.4
Phase Angle: 46.6

Of Interest: The crater Matabei, shown here, exhibits a dark ray system projecting from one side of the crater. Rays emanating from only certain sides of the crater can be due to an impactor that came in at a grazing angle, such as seen for the craters Hovnatanian and Qi Baishi. However dark rays like these can also indicate an irregular distribution of dark material below the surface. The dark rays are likely sub-surface material that was excavated and ejected out during the initial impact. It is also interesting to note the extensive hollows, identifiable as the bright regions in the southern half of the crater.

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. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.

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.


   

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