This limb image of Mercury allows us to take a step back to view the planet. Prior to the MESSENGER mission, Mercury's surface was often compared to the surface of Earth's Moon, when in fact, Mercury and the moon are very different. This image in particular highlights many basins near its terminator, including Bach crater. Many craters with central peaks and the nearby bright rays of Han Kan are also evident.
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: April 23, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 9021619
Image ID: 3935783
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -73.73°
Center Longitude: 245.0° E
Resolution: 1612 meters/pixel
Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)
Incidence Angle: 77.7°
Emission Angle: 50.8°
Phase Angle: 122.6°
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.