January 25, 2015
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The left-to-right field of view in this image is about 7.2 km (4.5 mi.) across
North is up in this image.
Of Interest: Remember this
? Since its first observation
in 2009, the volcanic vent complex to the northeast of Rachmaninoff
basin has rewarded us with remarkable views
of its explosive history. Portions of the vent are blanketed in a layer of very fine-grained material thought to be composed of pyroclastic particles
, and when we last saw this landform at very high resolution we could appreciate just how fine
that texture is. Now, with a resolution almost four times greater than that last image, we can see how the pyroclastic deposit softens the form of adjacent impact craters—almost like snow.
Fiery, hot, angry snow.
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 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are 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. 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.