Status Report

MESSENGER Image: A Crescent Mercury

By SpaceRef Editor
June 2, 2011
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Of Interest: Mercury forms a beautiful crescent shape in this image, acquired as the MESSENGER spacecraft was high above Mercury’s southern hemisphere. On the left side is the terminator, dividing the day from night. On the right side is the sunlit limb, separating Mercury from the darkness of space.

This image was acquired as part of MDIS’s limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury’s limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury’s shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury’s northern hemisphere.

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 24, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214697006
Image ID: 290397
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -53.01*
Center Longitude: 116.7* E
Resolution: 2827 meters/pixel
Scale: Mercury’s radius is 2,440 kilometers (1,520 miles)

SpaceRef staff editor.