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Conquest of the South Pole
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Conquest of the South Pole
Release Date: December 14, 2011
Topics: Earth, , Scarps and Rupes

Date acquired: November 06, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 229066087
Image ID: 978519
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -55.5°
Center Longitude: 267.8° E
Resolution: 152 meters/pixel
Scale: The edges of the image are about 157 km long.
Incidence Angle: 67.2°
Emission Angle: 14.9°
Phase Angle: 81.2°

Of Interest: One hundred years ago on this date (Dec. 14, 1911), Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his party became the first people to reach the Earth's south pole. The name of the ship that carried Amundsen to Antarctica was the Fram. The image above shows a portion of Fram Rupes on the planet Mercury, a long scarp (cliff) formed by compressive forces generated as the planet's interior cooled and contracted. According to the convention adopted by the International Astronomical Union, rupes on Mercury are named for "ships of discovery."

This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.

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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