PIA11414: Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) Measures the Depths of Mercury's Craters
Target Name: Mercury
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: MESSENGER
Spacecraft: MESSENGER
Instrument: MDIS - Narrow Angle
MLA
Product Size: 719 x 523 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Johns Hopkins University/APL
Full-Res TIFF: PIA11414.tif (1.13 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA11414.jpg (65.5 kB)

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Original Caption Released with Image:

This figure shows a 400-kilometer-long (250-mile-long) section of the MLA profile from MESSENGERís second Mercury flyby superposed on a high-resolution NAC departure mosaic acquired during the same encounter. The blue dots indicate the spacecraft ground track, and the yellow dots show the altimetry data points; the blue arrow shows the spacecraftís direction of travel. Near the center of this profile, the MLA track crosses two craters of comparable sizes but different depths (outlined by yellow circles in the lower left figure). The deeper crater in the center of the track is Machaut crater (see PIA11249), while the unnamed crater to Machautís east is considerably shallower. The lower right figure compares the depths of the two craters, indicating the difference measured by MLA with orange arrows. From the NAC mosaic it is apparent that the shallower crater has been filled, probably by volcanic material. By making such measurements systematically over the surface, it will be possible to measure the volumes of volcanic material erupted over Mercuryís history.

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Instrument: Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), Narrow Angle Camera (NAC)
Scale: Machaut crater is 106 kilometers (66 miles) in diameter

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.

Image Credit:
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Image Addition Date:
2008-10-31