This spectacular image includes three large craters, approximately 12 km, 30 km, and 70 km in diameter. The largest crater is the oldest of the three, with the other two superposed on top of it. The 30-km-diameter crater exhibits a very interesting and unusual central peak structure.
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 20, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214372528
Image ID: 276004
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 78.68°
Center Longitude: 205.0° E
Resolution: 154 meters/pixel
Scale: The largest crater in this image is 70 km (43 mi) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 78.7°
Emission Angle: 0.3°
Phase Angle: 78.5°
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.