August 13, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
2 (700 nanometers)
Kandinsky crater (outlined in cyan) has a diameter of 60 km (37 miles)
Polar stereographic about the north pole, with 180° E to the top
Kandinsky crater is located near Mercury's north pole
and shows evidence
for hosting water ice. The floor of Kandinsky is in permanent shadow
and never receives direct sunlight, keeping it very cold. However, by using sunlight scattered off the crater's walls and the WAC broadband clear filter, MDIS was able to capture this image that reveals the details of the shadowed surface! The WAC broadband image is shown on the left, outlined in yellow and overlain on an MDIS polar mosaic
. The view on the right shows the same image but with the brightness and contrast stretched
to show the details of the crater's shadowed floor. Read more about the recently published study using this image and others in this news story
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's campaign to image within regions of permanent shadow in ice-bearing polar craters. Imaging with the WAC broadband clear filter, which has a bandwidth of 600 nanometers and is used for calibration imaging of stars, has the potential to reveal details of shadowed surfaces that are weakly illuminated by scattered sunlight. A variety of image exposure times and viewing conditions are employed to maximize the opportunity to resolve surface features of areas in permanent shadow.
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. In the mission's more than three years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
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.