Though Basho crater is only about 80 kilometers (50 miles) in diameter, its bright rays make it an easily identified feature on Mercury's surface. In addition to the long bright rays, photographs from Mariner 10 showed an intriguing dark halo of material around the crater, which can be seen in the lower right portion of this Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image snapped by MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) on January 14, 2008. The MESSENGER Science Team is using the full color data set obtained with the 11 filters of the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) to investigate the nature and composition of this dark material. Basho crater is visible near Mercury's limb in the southeastern portion of the WAC false color image previously released (see PIA10398).
The crater is named for the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, renowned for his many haiku. MESSENGER's images of Mercury's striking landscape have inspired at least one poet; read Stuart Atkinson's poem "MESSENGER's Memories."
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.