This view from the south highlights the rayed crater Han Kan (50 km), just to the north of Van Gogh (100 km). This image, acquired on May 17, 2011, gives a great sense of MESSENGER's elliptical orbit, where the spacecraft spends most of its time relatively far from the planet. Check out MESSENGER's current location!
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.
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 17, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214088550
Image ID: 261737
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -68.49°
Center Longitude: 277.8° E
Resolution: 2834 meters/pixel
Scale: The radius of Mercury is 2440 km (1516 miles)
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.