March 29, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
The distance between the two rings is 63 km (39 miles).
In this image, taken with the Narrow Angle Camera
, note the coherent ring structure of Michelangelo, the two-ring impact basin
to the left. The rest of this image is dominated by the continuous ejecta blanket emanating from the basin itself. This basin is named for the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, and architect Michelangelo Buonarroti. Michelangelo is perhaps most widely known for his work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution albedo base map. The best images for discerning variations in albedo, or brightness, on the surface are acquired when the Sun is overhead, so these images typically are taken with low incidence angles. The albedo base map is a major mapping campaign in MESSENGER's extended mission and will cover Mercury's surface at an average resolution of 200 meters/pixel.
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, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support 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.