At high northern latitudes, as in this scene less than five degrees from the north pole, the sun is never very high above the horizon. Areas of higher elevation like crater rims poke their heads above the shadows, islands of sunlit terrain surrounded by darkness.
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: August 12, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 253301357
Image ID: 2379302
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 85.46°
Center Longitude: 287.7° E
Resolution: 15 meters/pixel
Scale: This scene is approximately 24 km (15 miles) across
Incidence Angle: 88.9°
Emission Angle: 49.1°
Phase Angle: 138.0°
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.