The Gallery today features two versions of the same limb image. Astronomers use the term "limb" to refer to the edge of a celestial body as viewed in a telescope. On the left is the original image of Mercury as captured by the Wide Angle Camera. On the right is the same image placed in an orthographic map projection. The scene includes the double-ring basin Michelangelo (M) and the large crater Hawthorne (H).
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.
Date acquired: June 06, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 215844301
Image ID: 345635
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -50.70°
Center Longitude: 271.7° E
Resolution: 1586 meters/pixel
Scale:The distance from the center of Michelangelo to the center of Hawthorne is about 323 km (200 mi.).
Incidence Angle: 91.2°
Emission Angle: 57.8°
Phase Angle: 141.3°
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.