In the lower left portion of today's image is a small, young, rayed impact crater. The rays have a typical bluish cast in this color presentation. The relatively blue color in this case is caused partly by the extreme youth of the rays (surfaces exposed to the space environment of Mercury for long periods tend to "redden" and darken). In addition, the crater formed in a dark, bluish terrain called the "Low Reflectance Material." The tan area toward the top of the image is "intermediate terrain."
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted color observation. Targeted color observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions higher than the 1-kilometer/pixel 8-color base map. During MESSENGER's one-year primary mission, hundreds of targeted color observations were obtained. During MESSENGER's extended mission, high-resolution targeted color observations are more rare, as the 3-color base map is covering Mercury's northern hemisphere with the highest-resolution color images that are possible.
Date acquired: November 30, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 231181189, 231181209, 231181193
Image ID: 1078917, 1078922, 1078918
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue.
Center Latitude: -34.19°
Center Longitude: 133.6° E
Resolution: 647 meters/pixel
Scale: The small rayed crater is about 16 km (10 mi.) in diameter.
Incidence Angle: 54.9°
Emission Angle: 3.9°
Phase Angle: 58.7°
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.