Happy Fourth of July from MESSENGER! Today's image features an explosion of stunning rays, radiating from a crater located near Mercury's equator. The bright ejecta rays result from impacts ejecting subsurface material. Because the subsurface material is relatively unweathered compared to the nearby surface terrain, the rays appear a bright white in this color image.
This image was acquired as a targeted high-resolution 11-color image set. Acquiring 11-color targets is a new campaign that began in March 2013 and that utilizes all of the WAC's 11 narrow-band color filters. Because of the large data volume involved, only features of special scientific interest are targeted for imaging in all 11 colors.
Date acquired: December 10, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 28990861, 28990857, 28990855
Image ID: 5355052, 5355050, 5355049
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: -0.68°
Center Longitude: 95.97° E
Resolution: 685 meters/pixel
Scale: The image is approximately 566 km (352 miles) across
Incidence Angle: 32.6°
Emission Angle: 49.5°
Phase Angle: 82.1°
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.