The MASCS instrument was designed to study both the exosphere and surface of Mercury. To learn more about the minerals and surface processes on Mercury, the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer (VIRS) portion of MASCS has been diligently collecting single tracks of spectral surface measurements since MESSENGER entered orbit. The track coverage is now extensive enough that the spectral properties of both broad terrains and small, distinct features such as pyroclastic vents and fresh craters can be studied. To accentuate the geological context of the spectral measurements, the MASCS data have been overlain on the MDIS monochrome mosaic. Click on the image to explore the colorful diversity of surface materials in more detail!
Instrument: Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS)
Map Projection: Orthographic
VIRS Color Composite Wavelengths: 575 nm as red, 415 nm/750 nm as green, 310 nm/390 nm as blue
Center Latitude (All Globes): 0°
Center Longitude (Top Left Globe): 270° E
Center Longitude (Top Right Globe): 0° E
Center Longitude (Bottom Left Globe): 90° E
Center Longitude (Bottom Right Globe): 180° E
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. In the mission's more than four years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER's highly successful orbital mission is about to come to an end, as the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury in April 2015.
For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.