MESSENGER Image of Mercury: Lifting the Veil of Anonymity

Of Interest: This image, taken by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), shows a beautiful example of a crater with terraced walls and bright central peaks. This crater is currently unnamed, but if this crater, with the intriguing bright material on its floor, is studied in detail, it may be assigned a name according to the set of rules defined by the International Astronomical Union.

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 images

Date acquired: August 31, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 223271934
Image ID: 699956
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -54.33°
Center Longitude: 311.2° E
Resolution: 100 meters/pixel
Scale: The terraced crater in the center of the image is about 36 km (22 miles) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 67.6°
Emission Angle: 35.2°
Phase Angle: 32.3°

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