This color image of Mercury's limb captures Debussy, a crater 80 km (50 mi.) in diameter, as well as some if its extensive rays. The crater and its rays appear brighter than the surrounding material because the crater is relatively young and the excavated materials have not been substantially darkened by space weathering.
This image was acquired as a targeted photometry observation. Photometry observations involve imaging a point on Mercury's surface under a range of different incidence and emission angles through the eight narrow-band color filters used in the 8-color base map. The different viewing and illumination conditions provide critical data for a photometric correction model to calibrate MDIS's color images.
Date acquired: March 21, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 240854845, 240854865, 240854849
Image ID: 1545794, 1545799, 1545795
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue
Center Latitude: -36.20°
Center Longitude: 60.40° E
Resolution: 2858 meters/pixel
Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)
Incidence Angle: 79.5°
Emission Angle: 66.7°
Phase Angle: 78.7
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 acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a year-long extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.
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.