This pair of images illustrates the differences between the footprints of the WAC and the NAC, the two cameras that make up the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). The image on the left is a WAC image that includes several bright craters. Their bright ejecta patterns indicate that the craters are relatively young. The image on the right is a NAC image taken within the footprint of the WAC image, revealing a complex crater with a central peak (marked by the X). The WAC field of view is approximately seven times wider than that of the NAC. The WAC can image the planet through 11 different color filters. The NAC provides the highest-resolution views of Mercury's surface.
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): 209893893, 209894056
Image ID: 65176, 65181
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 6.64° (WAC), 10.01° (NAC)
Center Longitude: 8.7° E (WAC), 12.25° E (NAC)
Resolution: 1278 meters/pixel (WAC), 166 meters/pixel (NAC)
Scale: The WAC image is about 650 kilometers (404 miles) across. The NAC image is about 84 kilometers (52 miles) across.
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.