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This animation depicts the illumination of the topography near Prokofiev crater, showing the small proportion of sunlight that reaches Prokofiev's floor and rim. The north-facing portions of the rim and interior remain in perpetual shadow, as do those of numerous other craters. The movie simulates approximately one Mercury solar day (176 Earth days) and uses the digital terrain model derived from MLA measurements. Contrast has been enhanced for best viewing.
Instrument: Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA)
Scale: Prokofiev has a diameter of 110 kilometers (68 miles)
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.