Darkness fills Chesterton crater, located just left of the center in this image. The crater's interior is in permanent shadow, never receiving direct sunlight. What lurks in these dark shadows? The answer may be ice!
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's north polar imaging campaign. During MESSENGER's primary mission, Mercury's south polar region was repeatedly imaged and areas of permanent shadow were identified. During MESSENGER's extended mission, MDIS will make a dedicated effort to repeatedly image the surface near Mercury's north pole. MESSENGER's highly eccentric orbit, which passes close to Mercury's surface at high northern latitudes, provides an opportunity for particularly high-resolution images of Mercury's north polar region.
Date acquired: October 10, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 258399884
Image ID: 2741837
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 88.75°
Center Longitude: 255.2° E
Resolution: 84 meters/pixel
Scale: Chesterton has a diameter of 37 kilometers (23 miles).
Incidence Angle: 88.7°
Emission Angle: 30.4°
Phase Angle: 58.2°
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.