Mercury's surface has been extensively modified by tectonic activity. Giant thrust faults are thought to be the result of global cooling and contraction of the planet, and Mercury's smooth plains in particular are folded and wrinkled. With the Sun very low in the sky, the complexity of tectonic features in the northern volcanic plains is especially apparent. The wrinkle-ridge ring (also known as a "ghost crater") on the eastern edge of the scene was also captured here (see PIA15636) at more moderate illumination angles.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-incidence-angle base map. The high-incidence-angle base map complements the surface morphology base map of MESSENGER's primary mission that was acquired under generally more moderate incidence angles. High incidence angles, achieved when the Sun is near the horizon, result in long shadows that accentuate the small-scale topography of geologic features. The high-incidence-angle base map was acquired with an average resolution of 200 meters/pixel.
Date acquired: November 12, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 26543953
Image ID: 5181050
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 80.04°
Center Longitude: 86.24° E
Resolution: 230 meters/pixel
Scale: Scene is 125 km (78 miles) from top to bottom
Incidence Angle: 90.7°
Emission Angle: 49.8°
Phase Angle: 140.6°
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.