Bright rays, consisting of impact ejecta and secondary craters, spread across this NAC image and radiate from Debussy crater, located at the top. The image, acquired yesterday during the first orbit for which MDIS was imaging, shows just a small portion of Debussy's large system of rays in greater detail than ever previously seen. Images acquired during MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby showed that Debussy's rays extend for hundreds of kilometers across Mercury's surface. Debussy crater was named in March 2010, in honor of the French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918).
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury. The mission is currently in its commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. In the course of the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation will unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the science questions that the MESSENGER mission has set out to answer.
Date Acquired:March 29, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):209885555
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Longitude:16.1° E
Resolution:300 meters/pixel (0.19 miles/pixel)
Scale: Debussy crater has a diameter of 80 kilometers (50 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.