The high-resolution image above depicts part of the rim of the crater Hokusai, one of the largest young craters on Mercury. The bright stripe to the right side of the image is part of the rim that collapsed, probably during the formation of the crater. The left side of the image shows part of the ejecta blanket and a few smooth areas where the impact melted the surrounding rock, which flowed and pooled in low areas. Variations in texture, like those seen in this stunning image, help scientists distinguish between various surface features.
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 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are imaged in this mode each week.
Date acquired: January 20, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 235555643
Image ID: 1289835
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 57.64°
Center Longitude: 14.63° E
Resolution: 20 meters/pixel
Scale: This image is 22 km (14 mi.) wide.
Incidence Angle: 78.2°
Emission Angle: 20.3°
Phase Angle: 98.6°
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.