PIA12330: Flooding Mercury's Surface
Target Name: Mercury
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: MESSENGER
Spacecraft: MESSENGER
Instrument: MDIS - Narrow Angle
Product Size: 1018 x 1024 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Johns Hopkins University/APL
Full-Res TIFF: PIA12330.tif (1.044 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA12330.jpg (187.8 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

MESSENGER's high-resolution images have revealed large areas of Mercury's surface that appear to have been flooded by lava, forming wide expanses of smooth plains. The NAC image shown here gives a view looking over some of these smooth plains toward the horizon in the upper left corner. A large crater in the lower left has been filled with lava such that only portions of its circular rim are visible. Other examples of flooded craters can be spotted throughout the image, along with wrinkle ridges snaking across the plains. "Volcanism on Mercury" is one of the topics being presented today by MESSENGER Science Team members at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. Prior to MESSENGER, there was some debate regarding the extent to which volcanism had affected Mercury's surface, but now it is clear that volcanism was a major process in the planet's geological history.

Date Acquired: September 29, 2009
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 162744106
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 400 meters/pixel (0.25 miles/pixel)
Scale: The bottom of this image is about 410 kilometers (250 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.

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

Image Addition Date:
2009-10-20