Although most of the surface in this image had been seen by MESSENGER before this image was acquired, the area outlined in white, approximately 51 square km (20 square mi) brought MESSENGER's image coverage of the innermost planet from 99.999993%% to a full 100%! The journey from 45% coverage by the Mariner 10 spacecraft to 100% coverage has enabled a better understanding of the global processes that shaped Mercury's formation and evolution. Even so, only a tiny fraction of the planet has been observed at the highest resolution. Improving high-resolution coverage is an important aspect of MESSENGER's proposed second extended mission at Mercury.
Date acquired: December 30, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 265399328
Image ID: 3239509
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 85.54°
Center Longitude: 106.8° E
Resolution: 162 meters/pixel
Scale: This image is approximately 60 km (37 mi.) across.
Incidence Angle: 85.5°
Emission Angle: 11.9°
Phase Angle: 73.7°
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.