PIA10394: First Laser Altimetry for Mercury


First Laser Altimetry for Mercury

Caption:

At top center is the first laser altimeter profile of Mercury's topography, taken by MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instrument during the spacecraft's flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008. At bottom center is the MLA ground projected onto a mosaic of radar images obtained by Harmon and others at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The interval during which MESSENGER was sufficiently close to the planet to be within measurement range of the MLA was when the spacecraft was on the night side, so there are no corresponding images of this region acquired by MESSENGER during this flyby; this region was also unseen by Mariner 10. The length of the profile is about 3200 km (about 2000 miles), and the dynamic range in elevation across the profile is about 5 km (about 3 miles). The profile sampled numerous craters and basins. The vertical exaggeration in the figure is 105:1.

At top left is a photograph of the MLA flight unit.

Background Info:

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 .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Mercury
System Mercury
Target Type Planet
Mission MESSENGER Mariner
Instrument Host MESSENGER Mariner 10
Host Type Flyby Spacecraft Orbiter
Instrument Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA)
Detector
Extra Keywords Color, Crater
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2008-01-30
Date in Caption 2008-01-14
Image Credit NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Cornell University/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA10394
Identifier PIA10394