PIA18938: A Face in the Dark...?

A Face in the Darkā€¦?


At first glance, this looks like another remarkable, high-resolution view of impact-shaped terrain high in Mercury's northern hemisphere. The scene is made all the more dramatic by the long shadows cast by the Sun, which was low in the sky when this image was taken.

But take a closer look.

Are the hairs on the back of your neck starting to stand on end? Do you have a feeling of unease, but can't quite put your finger on it? Are you alone but feeling the urge to turn around and look behind you?

Because the arrangement of craters and shadows in the bottom right of the image resemble a scared face, wide-eyed and furtively looking to the left. What's nearby that's so frightening? What is lurking in the shadows? What has that face in the dark seen?

Happy Halloween!

This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation as part of MESSENGER's efforts to search for spooky things on Mercury. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific and frightening interest are imaged in this mode each week.

Date acquired: September 17, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 53312695
Image ID: 7081553
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 68.2°
Center Longitude: 165.2° E
Resolution: 6 meters/pixel
Scale: The left-to-right field of view in this image is bone-chilling. And about 3.3 km (2 miles) across.
Incidence Angle: 88.1°
Emission Angle: 42.1°
Phase Angle: 130.2°
North (and fear) is to the bottom-right in this image.

Background Info:

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. During the first two years of orbital operations, 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 .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Mercury
Target Type Planet
Instrument Host MESSENGER
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Detector Narrow Angle Camera (NAC)
Extra Keywords Color, Crater, Impact, Map, Radio, Shadow
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2014-10-31
Date in Caption 2014-09-17
Image Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18938
Identifier PIA18938