This WAC image provides an extraordinary view of the crater Degas (pronounced duh-GAH), named for the French Impressionistic artist Edgar Degas. The crater's floor contains cracks that formed as the pool of impact melt cooled and shrank. The high-reflectance material on the walls and in the central portion of the crater probably has a composition distinct from that of the crater floor and surroundings. The illumination conditions and down-slope movement of eroded material exposing fresh rock also contribute to the bright appearance. A color image of part of Degas was featured in the June 16, 2011 NASA MESSENGER press conference.
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing.
Date acquired: May 21, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214460057
Image ID: 280113
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 9 (996 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 37.12°
Center Longitude: 232.1° E
Resolution: 89 meters/pixel
Scale: Degas is 53 km (33 miles) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 46.3°
Emission Angle: 7.4°
Phase Angle: 38.9°
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.