PIA14396: A Pivotal Moment
Target Name: Mercury
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: MESSENGER
Spacecraft: MESSENGER
Instrument: MDIS - Wide Angle
Product Size: 1020 x 1024 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Johns Hopkins University/APL
Full-Res TIFF: PIA14396.tif (1.046 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA14396.jpg (112.9 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

This image, captured with the Wide Angle Camera (WAC), was taken using MDIS's pivot. MDIS is mounted on a pivoting platform and is the only instrument in MESSENGER's payload capable of movement independent of the spacecraft. The other instruments are fixed in place, and most point down the spacecraft's boresight at all times, relying solely on the guidance and control system for pointing. The 90 range of motion of the pivot gives MDIS a much-needed extra degree of freedom, allowing MDIS to image the planet's surface at times when spacecraft geometry would normally prevent it from doing so. The pivot also gives MDIS additional imaging opportunities by allowing it to view more of the surface than just that at which the boresight-aligned instruments are pointed at any given time. To capture this image, the pivot was placed at an angle of about 5 degrees relative to the spacecraft's boresight.

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.

Date acquired: June 21, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 217120645
Image ID: 405150
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -40.58
Center Longitude: 150.0 E
Resolution: 2799 meters/pixel
Scale: Mercury's radius is approximately 2440 km (1516 miles)
Incidence Angle: 48.5
Emission Angle: 48.1
Phase Angle: 73.0

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.

Image Credit:
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Image Addition Date:
2011-07-08