Today's image of the day features a striking boundary of smooth and rough terrain near Mercury's north pole. This rugged wall of mountains would create quite a staggering view for an adventurer (or a rover) after crossing the expansive northern plains.
This image was acquired as part of MDIS's minimum-phase-angle color campaign. Near the north polar region, the incidence angle (measured from the vertical) is always fairly high because the Sun is low on the horizon. The minimum-phase-angle color campaign acquires images under conditions that minimize the shadows in an image by viewing the surface as nearly as possible from the same direction as the Sun's illumination, which minimizes the phase angle. Images are acquired through five of the WAC's narrow-band color filters, for regions north of 60° N, at an average resolution of 500 meters/pixel. The minimum-phase-angle color campaign began in March 2013.
Date acquired: April 15, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 39881820, 39881827, 39881817
Image ID: 6129196, 6129198, 6129195
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: 81.78°
Center Longitude: 163.9° E
Resolution: 225 meters/pixel
Scale: The boundary of smooth and rough terrain is approximately 130 km (81 mi.) long in this image.
Incidence Angle: 82.8°
Emission Angle: 54.7°
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.