Montage of MLA topography, solar illumination from topography (selected for maximum illumination of Prokofiev), radar cross-section (inverted scale), and MLA reflectance at 1064 nm. The high optical reflectances on the north-facing interior of Prokofiev, and the close correspondence of MLA-dark and -bright regions with radar-bright areas and models of surface temperature, indicate that the optically bright areas likely coincide with surface exposures of water ice. Optically dark surfaces in other radar-bright areas indicate a surficial layer of darker compounds.
Instrument: Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA)
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.
For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.