Interplanetary debris strikes the surface of Mercury with such force that portions of the rocky surface at the impact site melt. In this high-resolution image of Hokusai crater's interior and ejecta, you can see the smooth surfaces where impact melt ponded and cooled, forming new rocky plains.
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. 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: July 29, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 220460237
Image ID: 566858
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 56.97°
Center Longitude: 16.02° E
Resolution: 25 meters/pixel
Scale: This scene is approximately 30 km (19 miles) across
Incidence Angle: 75.2°
Emission Angle: 28.7°
Phase Angle: 104.0°
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.