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A Close-Up View of Mercurys Colors
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A Close-Up View of Mercury's Colors

October 30, 2008
  • Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
  • Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • Scale: The width of this scene is 620 kilometers (390 miles)

Of Interest: After MESSENGER made its closest approach to Mercury, flying just 200 kilometers (124 miles) above the surface, and as soon as the sunlit side of Mercury was fully in view, MDIS captured the highest-resolution color images ever obtained of Mercury (500 meters/pixel (0.3 miles/pixel)). This area was also seen by Mariner 10, whose lower-resolution two-color images hinted at the variety and nature of regions of different colors, and hence composition, on Mercury. Viewed here at high-resolution and in enhanced color, the relationship between the relatively young smooth plains on the left and older, dark blue material on the right is clear. The younger smooth plains cover the lower parts of rougher pre-existing topography and infill older craters, like the 120-kilometer (75-mile) diameter Rudaki crater lower-left of center. Dark, relatively blue material was ejected from the 105-kilometer (65-mile) diameter crater on the right side of the image, covering older smooth plains. A relatively young, small crater then excavated through this blue material to reveal the smooth plains beneath. This scene is centered at 4° South, 310° East and is outlined by a white rectangle on the enhanced color equatorial view of the side of Mercury seen during MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby.



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