PIA18974: Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness


The rim and shadowed wall of a nondescript crater 25 km (approx. 16 mi.) in diameter, situated within the volcanically infilled Mendelssohn basin may not seem like much to write home about. But when viewed at a resolution of about 9 meters (30 ft.) per pixel, we get a much better understanding of the nature of Mercury's surface. At this resolution, we can see the ever-smaller impact craters that pepper the landscape, as well as a subtle, mottled texture that pervades the surface. We have seen Mercury at even higher resolutions , and such images provide important insights into the geological character of the innermost planet.

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 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 interest are imaged in this mode each week.

Date acquired: October 21, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 56195973
Image ID: 7284273
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 71.5°
Center Longitude: 105.1°E
Resolution: 9 meters/pixel
Scale: The left-to-right field of view in this image is about 8.7 km (5.4 mi.) across
Incidence Angle: 85.1°
Emission Angle: 20.4°
Phase Angle: 105.5°
North is down 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, Volcano
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2014-12-05
Date in Caption 2014-10-21
Image Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18974
Identifier PIA18974