About 58 minutes before MESSENGER's closest approach to Mercury, the NAC captured this close-up image of a portion of Mercury's surface imaged by spacecraft for the first time during this flyby. This image is one of 44 in a high-resolution NAC mosaic taken of the approaching crescent-shaped Mercury, as seen at lower resolution in the optical navigation images ( PIA11244 ) and the approach WAC color image set ( PIA11247 ). The features in the foreground, near the right side of the image, are close to the terminator, the line between the sunlit dayside and dark night side of the planet, so shadows are long and prominent. Two very long scarps are visible in this region, and the scarps appear to crosscut each other. The easternmost scarp also cuts through a crater, showing that it formed after the impact that created the crater. Other neighboring impact craters, such as in the upper left of this image, appear to be filled with smooth plains material. The MESSENGER team has only had a few hours to examine these intriguing features, and, currently, more images from the flyby are still streaming back to Earth.
October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131766396
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: about 0.5 kilometers/pixel (0.3 miles/pixel) in the upper right portion of the image
Scale: The crater near the upper right of the image is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) in diameter
Spacecraft Altitude: 17,100 kilometers (10,600 miles)
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 .
|Target Type||Earth||Planet, Sun|
|Instrument||Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)|
|Extra Keywords||Crater, Grayscale, Shadow|
|Date in Caption||2008-10-06|
|Image Credit||NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington|