This is the highest resolution image taken to date of the planet Mercury! It shows an area just outside of a 33-km-diameter (21-mi.-diameter) crater to the southwest of Gauguin crater. The smooth areas here are likely filled with melt that was made and ejected as the crater formed. Only five images at resolutions better than 10 m/pixel have been taken in MESSENGER's first two years of orbital operations. If MESSENGER's second extended mission is approved, many more high-resolution images like this are planned.
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are imaged in this mode each week.
Date acquired: April 30, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 244286162
Image ID: 1738315
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 64.44°
Center Longitude: 257.5° E
Resolution: 7 meters/pixel
Scale: The diagonal of this image is approximately 11 km (7 mi.) across.
Incidence Angle: 70.0°
Emission Angle: 11.8°
Phase Angle: 81.8°
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.