The large crater at the center-left of today's image is Liang Kai. Liang Kai (the crater) is about 140 km in diameter and is fairly old. Its walls and rim have been substantially eroded, and its interior has been filled with a flat expanse of plains material.
Liang Kai (the human) was a painter of China's Southern Song Dynasty who lived from about 1140 to 1210 CE. He painted with an abbreviated approach, employing the minimal number of brushstrokes needed to evoke his subjects. Liang Kai was sometimes called "Madman Liang." One of his famous paintings is of a celestial being walking in a drunken stupor.
At the top edge of the image can be seen the terraced walls and bright central peaks of Gainsborough, named for an English painter.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution albedo base map. The best images for discerning variations in albedo, or brightness, on the surface are acquired when the Sun is overhead, so these images typically are taken at low incidence angles. The albedo base map covers Mercury's surface at an average resolution of 200 meters/pixel.
Date acquired: June 11, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 247903483
Image ID: 1996320
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: -39.3°
Center Longitude: 177.5° E
Resolution: 264 meters/pixel
Scale: The image is about 270 km (167 mi.) wide
Incidence Angle: 39.4°
Emission Angle: 35.8°
Phase Angle: 75.2°
North is toward the top of the image.
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.