This image, with north to the top, is of the central portion of the Rachmaninoff basin. According to a report on Mercury's topography published in the journal Science by Maria Zuber and her colleagues, a point in the lower right section of this image (at 27.42° N, 57.22° E) has the lowest elevation in the planet's northern hemisphere -- approximately 5.82 km below the reference. (In fact, another location in a crater at 85.45° N, 62.44° E has about the same low elevation as the point in Rachmaninoff.)
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: July 17, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 219350409
Image ID: 513717
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 27.84°
Center Longitude: 57.15° E
Resolution: 62 meters/pixel
Scale: The scene is about 73 km (45 mi.) across
Incidence Angle: 67.1°
Emission Angle: 25.9°
Phase Angle: 41.2°
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.