MESSENGER images are enabling the story of Mercury's geologic history to be told. In this scene, there was once a crater that resembled the one in the upper right. Then, volcanic lava flooded the surface, burying the crater and leaving just an outline of the crater's rim, now seen as the "ghost crater" located in the lower left of this image. After extensive flooding in Mercury's north, additional cosmic bodies impacted Mercury's surface, creating the various sized craters seen here.
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.
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. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.
Date acquired: August 14, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 221800118
Image ID: 630317
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 79.06°
Center Longitude: 36.45° E
Resolution: 69 meters/pixel
Scale: The diameter of the crater in the upper right portion of the image is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles)
Incidence Angle: 79.1°
Emission Angle: 0.1°
Phase Angle: 79.1°
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.