PIA19417: Showing Some Chemistry

Showing Some Chemistry


During MESSENGER's four-year orbital mission, the spacecraft's XRS instrument mapped out the chemical composition of Mercury and discovered striking regions of chemical diversity . These maps of magnesium/silicon (left) and aluminium/silicon (right) use red colors to indicate high values and blue colors for low values. In the maps shown here, the Caloris basin can be identified as a region with low Mg/Si and high Ca/Si on the upper left of each map. An extensive region with high Mg/Si is also clearly visible in the maps but is not correlated with any visible impact basin.

Instrument: X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) and Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Left Image: Map of Mg/Si
Right Image: Map of Al/Si

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. 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 .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Mercury
Target Type Planet
Instrument Host MESSENGER
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Extra Keywords Color, Impact, Map, Radio
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2015-04-16
Date in Caption
Image Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19417
Identifier PIA19417