The fiery yellow spots that stand out against the lower reflectance plains in this image are a series of pyroclastic vents stretching from roughly -60° latitude, within the crater Hesiod, to about -51° latitude. These vents are believed to have been the origins of explosive eruptions, driven by volcanic gases. Though they can be found across Mercury, this region contains one of the largest clusters of vents on the planet.
This image was acquired as a targeted color observation. Targeted color observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions higher than the 1-kilometer/pixel 8-color base map. During MESSENGER's one-year primary mission, hundreds of targeted color observations were obtained. During MESSENGER's extended mission, high-resolution targeted color observations are more rare, as the 3-color base map covered Mercury's northern hemisphere with the highest-resolution color images that are possible.
Date acquired: August 02, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 17789351, 17789371, 17789355
Image ID: 4558440, 4558445, 4558441
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue
Center Latitude: -52.65°
Center Longitude: 329.5° E
Resolution: 777 meters/pixel
Scale: This image is about 725 km (450 mi.) wide at the top.
Center Incidence Angle: 58.9°
Center Emission Angle: 59.2°
Center Phase Angle: 28.0°
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.