Bright Ejecta Rays of Kuiper
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Bright Ejecta Rays of Kuiper

October 9, 2008
  • Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131774036
  • Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • Resolution: 530 meters/pixel (0.33 miles/pixel)
  • Scale: Kuiper crater is 62 kilometers in diameter (39 miles)
  • Spacecraft Altitude: 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles)

Of Interest: During Monday's flyby of Mercury, MESSENGER's NAC captured a new view of the bright, radial ejecta rays of Kuiper crater that were previously imaged by Mariner 10 at a lower Sun angle. Kuiper crater is named for Gerard Kuiper, a Dutch-American astronomer who was also a member of the Mariner 10 team. Bright ejecta rays such as these are produced as impacts excavate and eject relatively unweathered subsurface material. The ejecta rays of Kuiper and other large craters are observed to extend for hundreds of kilometers across the cratered terrain of Mercury, as seen on the full planet image from MESSENGER's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) released previously.

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