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A Big and Brilliant Ray System
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A Big and Brilliant Ray System
Release Date: December 15, 2008
Topics: Crater Rays, Limb Images, Mercury Flyby 2,

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131772423
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC Filter: 7 (750 nanometers)
Resolution: 2.2 kilometers/pixel (1.4 miles/pixel) in the lower left of the image
Scale: Mercury's radius is 2440 kilometers (1520 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 12,500 kilometers (7,800 miles)

Update:Feature "B" was given the official name Hokusai in March 2010.

Of Interest: In one of the first images transmitted to Earth following MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby, a full-planet departure view showed a crater in the northern region near the planet's limb with an impressively large system of rays. The WAC image shown here is part of a 3x3 mosaic and provides a closer look at that extensive ray system. The source crater for the ray system can be seen in detail in a previously released high-resolution Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image. Astronomers who collected ground-based radar images from the Arecibo Observatory had identified this rayed crater prior to MESSENGER's flyby and referred to it as feature “B.” Now optical images from MESSENGER's flyby have revealed just how big and brilliant this ray system of feature “B” really is.

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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