Xiao Zhao, a relatively small fresh crater, stretches its rays across this entire image, illustrating that small impacts are still quite powerful. The bright crater rays, composed of fresh material excavated by the impact, are contrasted by the older, darker surrounding surface. Another small impact crater well known for its extensive rays is Han Kan.
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.
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. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science
questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is
scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science
Date acquired: July 11, 2011
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 218840609
Image ID: 489105
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 9 (996 nanometers)
Center Latitude: 14.17°
Center Longitude: 122.3° E
Resolution: 456 meters/pixel
Scale: Diameter of Xiao Zhao is 24.2 kilometers (15.0 miles)
Incidence Angle: 22.1°
Emission Angle: 34.3°
Phase Angle: 56.4°
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.