Date: 5 Dec 2013
MESSENGER has now surpassed 200,000 images acquired from orbit about Mercury! And there are still many more to come. In particular, acquiring NAC images when the spacecraft is closest to the planet is a priority for the remainder of the mission; such images will allow the highest resolution views of Mercury's surface to be captured. The four-image mosaic shown here is one of the first from the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. Among the details revealed are hollows that appear to have formed in one layer in the wall of this 15-km-diameter crater.
This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During MESSENGER's second extended mission, the spacecraft makes a progressively closer approach to Mercury's surface than at any previous point in the mission, enabling the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution data. For spacecraft altitudes below 350 km, NAC images are acquired with pixel scales ranging from 20 m to as little as 2 m.
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.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington