MESSENGER Reveals Mercury in New Detail
Date: 14 Jan 2008
As MESSENGER approached Mercury on 14 January 2008, the spacecraft's Narrow-Angle Camera on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) instrument captured this view of the planet's rugged, cratered landscape illuminated obliquely by the sun.
The large, shadow-filled, double ringed crater to the upper right was glimpsed by Mariner 10 more than three decades ago and named Vivaldi, after the Italian composer. Its outer ring has a diameter of about 200 km (about 125 miles). MESSENGER's modern camera has revealed detail that was not well seen by Mariner 10, including the broad ancient depression overlapped by the lower-left part of Vivaldi crater.
This MESSENGER image was taken from a distance of about 18,000 km (11,000 miles), about 56 minutes before the spacecraft's closest encounter with Mercury. It shows a region roughly 500 km (300 miles) across, and craters as small as one kilometer (0.6 mile) can be seen in this image.
Last Update: 17 Aug 2011 (AMB)
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington