Today's image features a perspective view of two of the newly named craters near Mercury's south pole. To create this image, a portion of the MDIS monochrome basemap was draped over a digital elevation model. The topography has been exaggerated by 7 times to accentuate the rugged terrain formed by numerous overlapping craters.
In the foreground, sunlight highlights much of the rim of the dark Lovecraft crater, named for the American horror author Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937). The larger Roerich crater, named for the Russian painter Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), lies slightly to the north of Lovecraft crater. One of Lovecraft's most famous works, 'At the Mountains of Madness' takes place on a scientific expedition to the south pole, and references Roerich's artwork--in particular, his paintings of the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan Mountains. Portions of Lovecraft crater are shrouded in permanent darkness, and host radar-bright material. Similar deposits at the north pole have been associated with water ice and unusually dark material.
Instrument: Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -85.10°
Center Longitude: 284.8° E
Basemap Resolution: approximately 250 meters/pixel
Digital Elevation Model: Produced by MESSENGER Participating Scientist Bob Gaskell based on MDIS images
Vertical Exaggeration: 7 times actual
Scale: Roerich crater is 111.7 km (69.4 miles) across
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. MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.