The spectacular rays of Raden Saleh, Qi Baishi, and Hovnatanian stretch across this image. Raden Saleh's rays are distributed mostly symmetrically around the crater. Qi Baishi's rays exhibit a zone of avoidance to the west. Hovnatanian's rays form a "butterfly" pattern and are absent to the north and south sides of the crater. Asymmetrical ray patterns are formed by objects that impact at relatively low incidence angles and can be used to determine the direction of impact.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's color base map. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel). The highest-quality color images are obtained for Mercury's surface when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead, so these images typically are taken with viewing conditions of low incidence and emission angles.
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: June 28, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 217735147
Image ID: 435804
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -3.04°
Center Longitude: 165.0° E
Resolution: 1394 meters/pixel
Scale: Qi Baishi, the rayed crater near the center of this image, is 15 km (approximately 9 mi.) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 6.4°
Emission Angle: 34.4°
Phase Angle: 28.0°
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.