NASA MESSENGER Image of Mercury: Hallowed Hollows

Of Interest: The hollows of Mercury continue to fascinate. Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain their formation, there is as yet no clear model for their origin. Hollows almost always occur within or surrounding impact features, but these interesting landforms continue to elude. Here, hollows occur on the smooth floor and terraced walls of an unnamed crater at mid-latitudes in Mercury's northern hemisphere.

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, 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. Larger Image

Date acquired: October 13, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 258659720
Image ID: 2760274
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 46.4°
Center Longitude: 318.7° E
Resolution: 17 meters/pixel
Scale: The field of view of this image is approx. 20 km (12 mi.) from left to right.
Incidence Angle: 75.1°
Emission Angle: 18.3°
Phase Angle: 93.4°

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