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New Images Reveal a Dark Side
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New Images Reveal a Dark Side
Release Date: September 7, 2011
Topics: Albedo Contrasts, Craters with Dark Material,

Date acquired: August 19, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 222234072
Image ID: 650826
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -21.76°
Center Longitude: 45.61° E
Resolution: 402 meters/pixel
Scale: The double-ring basin at the top of the image is approximately 172 kilometers (107 miles) in diameter
Incidence Angle: 35.1°
Emission Angle: 0.6°
Phase Angle: 34.5°

Of Interest: The double-ring basin at the top of this image was previously imaged on July 20, 2011, as part of MDIS's surface morphology base map. The previous image showed details of the basin's peak-ring structure, but the image shown here, acquired as part of MDIS's color base map, reveals the dark material on the basin floor.

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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