As in this monochrome view of Mercury, the bright rays of Hokusai crater can be seen crossing the surface from north to south. This color image, with the central wavelengths of 1000 nm, 750 nm, and 430 nm displayed in red, green, and blue, respectively, also highlights some of the subtle color variations observed on Mercury. Spectral variations can be due to differences in particle size, duration of time exposed on surface, or composition. The MESSENGER team is working hard to unravel the complicated story contained in these beautiful color images.
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.
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 209890193, 209890197, 209890213
Image ID: 65109, 65110, 65114
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 6,7,9 (433, 749, 996 nanometers wavelength)
Center Latitude: 3.1°
Center Longitude: 352.3° E
Resolution: 1.5 kilometers/pixel
Scale: The radius of Mercury is 2440 km
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.