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MESSENGER Observes Arecibo
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MESSENGER Observes Arecibo
Release Date: October 10, 2008
Topics: Crater Rays, Kuiper, Mercury Flyby 2, , , Petrarch, Vallis

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131773984
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 530 meters/pixel (0.33 miles/pixel)
Scale: Ibsen crater is 159 kilometers in diameter (99 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 20,800 kilometers (12,900 miles)

Of Interest: About 69 minutes after MESSENGER°s closest approach to Mercury during the mission°s second flyby, the NAC acquired this image of a portion of Mercury°s surface also seen during the Mariner 10 mission. Toward the lower portion of the image, Arecibo Vallis is visible. Vallis is the Latin word for valley, and valles (the plural of vallis) on Mercury are named for radio telescope observatories. Arecibo Observatory is located in Puerto Rico and has been used to conduct Earth-based studies of Mercury with important results, including the detection of radar-bright materials at Mercury°s poles that may be water ice trapped in permanently shadowed craters. Arecibo also observed some bright, rayed craters that have now been better resolved by MESSENGER°s latest images. Lately, Arecibo°s unique radar capabilities have been threatened with closure due to changed funding priorities. The craters Ibsen (named for the Norwegian playwright) and Petrarch (named for the Italian poet) are also visible in this image. Bright rays from Kuiper crater extend down from the top of the image.

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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