Image: Sunlit side of the planet Mercury

October 29, 2013
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Another day, another beautiful view of Mercury's horizon. In this scene, which was acquired looking from the shadows toward the sunlit side of the planet, a 120-km (75 mi.) impact crater stands out near the center. Emanating from this unnamed crater are striking chains of secondary craters, which gouged linear tracks radially away from the crater. While this crater is not especially fresh (its rays have faded into the background), it does appear to have more prominent secondary crater chains than many of its peers.

This image was acquired on Oct. 2, 2013 by the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, as part of the MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.

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.

Explore further: NASA releases picture of Mercury's surface (Update)

Related Stories

Bright peaks, dark shadows

February 20, 2012

The 68-mile (109-km) -wide Amaral crater on Mercury reveals its brightly-tipped central peaks in this image, acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft on Feb. 4, 2012. Long shadows are cast by the crater’s peaks and ...

Mercury down under

February 27, 2012

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, about to wrap up its first full year in orbit around Mercury, captured this view of the planet’s heavily-cratered southern hemisphere on August 28, 2011. Because of its orbit, MESSENGER ...

Warhol crater gets its 15 minutes of fame

May 15, 2012

As pop art icon Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,”  and so here’s an image of the crater on Mercury that now bears his name, set up in the style of one of his ...

Evidence for active hollows formation on Mercury

December 20, 2012

A recent image acquired by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft shows the interior of Eminescu, a youngish 130-km (80 mile) wide crater just north of Mercury's equator. Eminescu made science headlines last year with MESSENGER's discovery ...

On the edge of Tyagaraja

August 20, 2013

Here's a rather interesting view from orbit around the innermost planet: Mercury's Tyagaraja crater, the interior of which is seen here in an oblique-angled image acquired by the MESSENGER spacecraft on November 12, 2011 ...

Recommended for you

NASA team probes peculiar age-defying star

August 29, 2016

For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

Milky way had a blowout bash six million years ago

August 29, 2016

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is currently a quiet place where a supermassive black hole slumbers, only occasionally slurping small sips of hydrogen gas. But it wasn't always this way. A new study shows that 6 million ...

NASA's Juno successfully completes Jupiter flyby

August 29, 2016

NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.