A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study
of the innermost planet
NASA logo carnegie institution logo JHU APL logo

Why Mercury?
The Mission
News Center
Science Operations
Who We Are
Related Links

Download iPhone/iPad app Explore orbital data with quickmap Question and Answer End of Orbit Insertion Where is MESSENGER? Where is Mercury now? Subscribe to MESSENGER eNews

Fading Away
Click on image to enlarge.
Fading Away
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Topics: Crater Rays, Mercury Flyby 2, , Bek

Update: This rayed crater was given the name Bek in March 2010.

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131771863
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 240 meters/pixel (0.15 miles/pixel)
Scale: Image is approximately 240 kilometers (150 miles) wide
Spacecraft Altitude: 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles)

Of Interest: This NAC image from MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby shows a crater with a set of light-colored rays radiating outward from it. Such rays are formed when an impact excavates material from below the surface and throws it outward from the crater. These bright rays, consisting both of ejecta and the secondary craters that form when the ejected material re-impacts the surface, slowly begin to fade as they are exposed to the harsh space environment. Mercury and other airless planetary bodies are constantly being bombarded with micrometeorites and energetic ions, an effect known as space weathering. Craters with bright rays are thought to be relatively young because the rays are still visible, suggesting that they have had less exposure to weathering processes. The crater in the center of this image has rays that have already begun to fade, implying that it is older than some other rayed craters on Mercury's surface. Images of younger craters with much brighter and more striking rays have been previously released.

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.


   Top  | Contacts
© 1999-2015 by JHU/APL