Acquired as the MESSENGER spacecraft approached the planet during the missionís second Mercury flyby, this NAC image captures a scene of nightfall on Mercury. The surface features on the right side of the image are illuminated by the last rays of sunlight and will soon be in the darkness of a Mercury night. Some high-standing rugged crater rims poke up into the light, while the lower-elevation crater interiors are already in darkness. Looking out toward the limb of the planet (upper left), extensive areas of smooth plains are visible, as also observed on other regions of the nearby surface (see PIA11353). The terrain to the left of this image can be viewed in a previously released NAC image (see PIA11366).
Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131766569
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 410 meters/pixel (0.25 miles/pixel) near the bottom edge of the image
Scale: The bottom of the image is about 420 kilometers (260 miles) wide
Spacecraft Altitude: 15,900 kilometers (9,900 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.