The crater near the bottom of this image is a beautiful example of a relatively small, simple, fresh impact feature on Mercury. It illustrates the textbook characteristics of a crater in its size range. The crater is nearly bowl-shaped, with just a small flat area in the center of its floor. The walls and rim are sharp and do not appear to have suffered the collapse and terracing that modify larger craters. The bright ejecta and rays are symmetrically distributed around the crater, indicating that the body that struck Mercury to form the crater approached on a path that was not highly inclined from the vertical.
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): 209894125
Image ID: 65182
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 11.8.°
Center Longitude:13.9° E
Resolution: 160 meters/pixel
Scale: The bright crater is about 6.4 km (4 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.