A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study
of the innermost planet
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Release Date: May 4, 2011
Topics: Global Views, Limb Images, , Terminator Views,

Date acquired: April 24, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 212175990
Image ID: 171643
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -25.57°
Center Longitude: 227.0° E
Scale: Beethoven basin is 630 km across.

Of Interest:
This dramatic view of Mercury's limb includes Beethoven basin, which can be seen towards the center of the image. Compare Beethoven's appearance and distance from the terminator here to its appearance in this image, taken ten days before, to get a sense of Mercury's rotation rate.

This image was acquired as part of MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.

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. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.

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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