Even a barren landscape possesses its own stark beauty. Today's image shows an area of rather subdued terrain consisting of old craters that have been worn down by long periods of impact erosion. Just a few small young craters are found here. The smooth-looking areas between the small fresh craters might be relatively free of boulders. Such locations could be attractive as potential sites where a future lander could set down safely, although for thermal management reasons it is likely that a similar smooth area closer to one of the poles would be selected.
This image was acquired as part of the NAC ride-along imaging campaign. When data volume is available and MDIS is not acquiring images for its other campaigns, high-resolution NAC images are obtained of the surface. These images are designed not to interfere with other instrument observations but take full advantage of periods during the mission when extra data volume is available.
Date acquired: February 25, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 238696813
Image ID: 1441387
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 35.73°
Center Longitude: 306.8° E
Resolution: 17 meters/pixel
Scale: The edges of the image are about 17 km (10.5 mi.) long.
Incidence Angle: 60.6°
Emission Angle: 0.2°
Phase Angle: 60.9°
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.