This image, acquired with the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), shows Sōtatsu crater, the large crater extending out the left side of the frame. Named for Japanese artist Tawaraya Sōtatsu, the crater was first imaged by Mariner 10 in the 1970s; this is the first close-up view by MESSENGER. The bright spots on Sōtatsu's floor are caused by small, fresh, young craters.
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: September 07, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 223923243
Image ID: 730945
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -50.08°
Center Longitude: 344.1° E
Resolution: 222 meters/pixel
Scale: Sōtatsu crater has a diameter of 156 km (97 miles)
Incidence Angle: 51.9°
Emission Angle: 35.7°
Phase Angle: 87.6°
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.