Pictured above is an impact crater first imaged during Mercury flyby 2 and drawing scientific attention because of its extensive system of rays, which extend over a thousand kilometers across the planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved the name Hokusai for this spectacular rayed crater. Hokusai is a prominent feature seen in Earth-based radar images of Mercury, and the name Hokusai was suggested by radar astronomer John K. Harmon. The crater's name honors the Japanese painter, draftsman, and printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Hokusai is perhaps best known for the painting "Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa."
Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Scale: The diameter of Hokusai is 95 kilometers (59 miles)
Projection: This image is a portion of the global Mercury mosaic. Shown here is a portion of that mosaic, at a resolution of 500 meters/pixel (0.3 miles/pixel) in polar reprojection, an image transformation often used to show high-latitude areas near the north or south poles.
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.