A common tectonic feature found on Mercury is a scarp, or steep cliff, such as the one extending across the length of this image. Though common on Mercury, long, globally distributed scarps like this are not common on the other planets in the Solar System. It is believed that the scarps formed due to Mercury's thermal history.
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: December 31, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 233857807
Image ID: 1207843
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 28.45°
Center Longitude: 87.68° E
Resolution: 55 meters/pixel
Scale: This image is about 110 kilometers (68 miles) across
Incidence Angle: 62.2°
Emission Angle: 59.0°
Phase Angle: 28.1°
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.