This exquisite image shows de Graft, a complex crater that contains many hollows on its floor and peak. It is not yet known exactly how hollows form, but the MESSENGER team is actively working to understand this unique phenomenon. Pristine hollows in young craters like de Graft may be still forming to this day. It seems that this crater is as interesting as its namesake, Joe de Graft.
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 16, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 250938380
Image ID: 2211371
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 21.88°
Center Longitude: 1.63° E
Resolution: 47 meters/pixel
Scale: DeGraft is approximately 68 km ( 42 mi.) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 74.7°
Emission Angle: 40.8°
Phase Angle: 115.6°
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.