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Heart of Darkness
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Heart of Darkness
Release Date: July 6, 2011
Topics: Color Images, Craters with Dark Material, Low Reflectance Material (LRM)

Date acquired: April 10, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 210894951, 210894944, 210894941
Image ID: 112303, 112299, 112297
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 12, 4, 6 (830-, 560-, 433-nanometers)
Center Latitude: 51.41°
Center Longitude: 318.0° E
Resolution: 915 meters/pixel
Scale: The scene is about 230 km (143 mi.) across.
Incidence Angle: 52.5°
Emission Angle: 1.7°
Phase Angle: 50.7°

Of Interest: "Low Reflectance Material" (LRM) is one of the major color-compositional units that has been identified on Mercury in MESSENGER multispectral images. The impact crater in the lower left of the image above has excavated LRM from the subsurface. This color presentation was made from images in the 830-, 560- and 430-nm filters as red-green-blue.

This image was acquired as part of MDIS's color base map. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel). The highest-quality color images are obtained for Mercury's surface when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead, so these images typically are taken with viewing conditions of low incidence and emission angles.

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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