This false-color image of Mercury, recently published in Science magazine, shows the great Caloris impact basin (see PIA10383), visible in this image as a large, circular, orange feature in the center of the picture. The contrast between the colors of the Caloris basin floor and those of the surrounding plains indicate that the composition of Mercury's surface is variable. Many additional geological features with intriguing color signatures can be identified in this image. For example, the bright orange spots just inside the rim of Caloris basin are thought to mark the location of volcanic features, such as the volcano shown in this previously released Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image (see PIA10942). MESSENGER Science Team members are studying these regional color variations in detail, to determine the different mineral compositions of Mercury's surface and to understand the geologic processes that have acted on it. Images taken through the 11 different WAC color filters were used to create this false-color image. The 11 different color images were compared and contrasted using statistical methods to isolate and enhance subtle color differences on Mercury's surface.
Date Acquired: January 14, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Times (MET): 108827278-108827328
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 2.3 kilometers/pixel (1.4 miles/pixel)
Scale: Caloris basin is about 1,550 kilometers in diameter (960 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles)
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.