NASA MESSENGER Image of Mercury: Young Crater With Bright Rays

Of Interest: This high-resolution color image shows a 14-kilometer diameter crater that is relatively young, as indicated by the bright rays that cross the neighboring features. A dark "tongue" of impact melt, which has a bluer color than the nearby surface, appears to have flowed out of the crater.

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. Larger image.

Date acquired: May 16, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214069807, 214069811, 214069815
Image ID: 261719, 261720, 261721
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue
Center Latitude: -8.82°
Center Longitude: 254.9° E
Resolution: 294 meters/pixel
Scale: The center crater has a diameter of approximately 14 kilometers (9 miles)
Incidence Angle: 41.8°
Emission Angle: 25.6°
Phase Angle: 67.4°

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