The young rays of Mena crater contrast brightly against the surrounding surface, though the rays will gradually fade with time. The asymmetric pattern of the rays, with a gap in the south-western direction, may be due to the angle at which the impact that formed the crater occurred, or to the fact that Mena formed on the rim of a larger pre-existing impact crater, as seen in this image.
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: November 12, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 229581348, 229581352, 229581356
Image ID: 1003074-1003076
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (1000, 750, 430 nanometers) as red, green, blue
Center Latitude: -0.97°
Center Longitude: 234.0° E
Resolution: 257 meters/pixel
Scale: Mena has a diameter of 15 km (9 miles)
Incidence Angle: 29.7°
Emission Angle: 16.3°
Phase Angle: 46.0°
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.