This image is a portion of the MDIS global mosaic basemap that was acquired during MESSENGER's first year in orbit. Caloris basin, the largest young impact crater on Mercury, dominates the scene. With an east-west diameter of 1,640 km, Caloris hosts a wide variety of tectonic features, including graben, ridges, and Pantheon Fossae. MESSENGER team members are in the process of mapping the tectonic features within the Caloris basin and deciphering their complicated relationships.
MESSENGER scientists are interested in the tectonic features of Caloris as the basin shows widespread evidence of both extension and compression, an uncommon tectonic combination on Mercury. Since different processes produce extensional and contractional landforms, the Caloris basin has clearly had a complex and detailed geological history. Understanding how these structures developed will yield an insight into tectonism in Mercury's largest basin, and large impact craters in general.
Date Created: February 10, 2012
Instrument: Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Latitude Rang: 12° N to 52° N
Longitude Range: 139° E to 187° E
Resolution: 1720 meters/pixel
Scale: The large crater at center right (Atget crater) is 100 km (63 mi.) in diameter
Projection: Azimuthal equidistant
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.