In addition to the surface morphology base map, MDIS is currently acquiring a color base map during the mission's first 176 days. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface at an average resolution of 1 km/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) or better. In contrast to the imaging conditions best suited for seeing surface topography, the highest-quality color images of Mercury's surface are obtained when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead and shadows are limited. The eight different color filters of the WAC that are used to create the color base map have central wavelengths of 430, 480, 560, 630, 750, 830, 900, and 1000 nm. The images acquired through these narrow-band filters are combined to create color images that accentuate color differences on Mercury's surface. As an example, this image was created by using three images acquired as part of the color base map with the central wavelengths of 1000, 750, and 430 nm displayed in red, green, and blue, respectively. The bright, rayed crater is Snorri (21 km diameter).
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: April 15, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 2113702871, 211370291, 211370307
Image ID: 134764, 134765, 134769
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 9 (1000 nanometers), 7 (750 nanometers), 6 (430 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -3.54°
Center Longitude: 275.7° E
Resolution: 953 meters/pixel
Scale: A scale bar of 250 kilometers is given on the image
Incidence Angle: 39.3°
Emission Angle: 0.2°
Phase Angle: 39.4°
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.