The south pole of Mercury, indicated here by an X, lies within the crater Chao Meng-Fu (named for a 13th century Chinese painter and calligrapher). Much of the interior of this crater lies in permanent darkness, and it is known to host radar bright features.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's campaign to monitor the south polar region of Mercury. By imaging the polar region every four MESSENGER orbits as illumination conditions change, features that were in shadow on earlier orbits can be discerned and any permanently shadowed areas can be identified after repeated imaging over one solar day. During MESSENGER's one-year mission, MDIS's WAC is used to monitor the south polar region for the first Mercury solar day (176 Earth days), and MDIS's NAC is used for imaging the south polar region during the second Mercury solar day.
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: October 10, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 226722230
Image ID: 866003
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -88.74°
Center Longitude: 121.7° E
Resolution: 298 meters/pixel
Scale: Chao Meng-Fu is approximately 160 km (99 mi) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 91.2°
Emission Angle: 7.1°
Phase Angle: 97.0°
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.