Release Date: May 19, 2016
Date acquired: August 29, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 51631967
Image ID: 6962760
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 51.99°
Center Longitude: 272.0° E
Resolution: 3 meters/pixel
Scale: The bottom of the image is roughly 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles)
Incidence Angle: 62.9°
Emission Angle: 15.1°
Phase Angle: 78.0°
Of Interest: This is one of the highest-quality and highest-resolution images of hollows obtained by MESSENGER. The image was serendipitous, because it was collected as a "ride-along" image, when another one of MESSENGER's science instruments was controlling where the spacecraft pointed. The MDIS narrow angle camera (NAC) was simply taking high-resolution, low-altitude images of whatever terrain happened to be in the camera field of view. The lucky image shows the incredibly smooth floor of these small hollows, which are located within the Sholem Aleichem basin. No impact craters are visible on the floor of the hollows, even though many small craters occur on the surroundings. The lack of impact craters suggests that the hollows are very young compared with most of Mercury's surface. This image is featured in a paper published in 2016 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets (vol. 121, doi:10.1002/2016JE005070) by MESSENGER Participating Scientist David Blewett and his colleagues. This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During MESSENGER's second extended mission, the spacecraft made progressively closer approaches to Mercury's surface than at any previous point in the mission, enabling the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution data. For spacecraft altitudes below 350 kilometers, NAC images were acquired with pixel scales ranging from 20 meters to as little as 2 meters. As the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury, MESSENGER revolutionized our understanding of the Solar System's innermost planet, as well as accomplished technological firsts that made the mission possible.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
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