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Nebula? No, It's the Cat's Eye Crater!
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Nebula? No, It's the Cat's Eye Crater!
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Topics: Color Images, Crater Rays, Craters with Dark Material, Hollows, Low Reflectance Material (LRM), , Xiao Zhao

Date acquired: January 03, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 234069356, 234069376, 234069360
Image ID: 1218103, 1218108, 1218104
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue
Center Latitude: 10.47°
Center Longitude: 113.8° E
Resolution: 466 meters/pixel
Scale: Eminescu has a diameter 130 km (81 mi)
Incidence Angle: 26.6°
Emission Angle: 23.5°
Phase Angle: 50.2°

Of Interest: Centered in this stunning image lies Eminescu crater, illuminated by a bright halo of material around its edge. The ends of a ray system emanating from Xiao Zhao are on the right side of the image. Standing in stark contrast with the low reflectance material within the crater (identifiable as the dark regions on the crater's floor) are bright hollows (identifiable as the bright ring near the crater's center).

Today's image title is in reference to the Cat's Eye Nebula, a well studied, iconic nebula that shares similar features to this image of Eminescu, such as notably the blues, yellows, and spherical shape of the formation.

This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted color observation. Targeted color observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions higher than the 1-kilometer/pixel 8-color base map. During MESSENGER's one-year primary mission, hundreds of targeted color observations were obtained. During MESSENGER's extended mission, high-resolution targeted color observations are more rare, as the 3-color base map covered Mercury's northern hemisphere with the highest-resolution color images that are possible.

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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