The largest crater in this scene, located in the upper left portion of the image, is Belinskij, named for the Russian literary critic and journalist Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinskij (1811-1848). The crater to the east of Belinskij and about half its size contains radar-bright material. This material may be water ice, present due to low temperature conditions within a permanently shadowed region of this crater. MDIS's south polar imaging campaign will determine which of Mercury's craters contain areas of permanent shadow.
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 23, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214641016
Image ID: 288387
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -78.45°
Center Longitude: 260.9° E
Resolution: 237 meters/pixel
Scale: Belinskij has a diameter of 71 kilometers
Incidence Angle: 84.9°
Emission Angle: 0.9°
Phase Angle: 85.4°
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.