The Caloris Montes are the ring of mountainous peaks that make up the rim of the Caloris basin. Shown here is the southeastern portion of the rim, first seen by Mariner 10. This month MESSENGER is getting its first orbital look at Caloris, and its first images of the basin with the Sun low in the sky (high incidence angles), allowing for unprecedented views of the topographic features of one of the largest basins in the Solar System.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution surface morphology base map. The surface morphology base map will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 250 meters/pixel (0.16 miles/pixel or 820 feet/pixel). Images acquired for the surface morphology base map typically have off-vertical Sun angles (i.e., high incidence angles) and visible shadows so as to reveal clearly the topographic form of geologic features.
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: May 05, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 213066802
Image ID: 214595
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 17.60°
Center Longitude: 176.4° E
Resolution: 163 meters/pixel
Scale: Image is approximately 95 km (59 miles) across
Incidence Angle: 74.4°
Emission Angle: 30.9°
Phase Angle: 105.4°
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.