MESSENGER Discovers an Unusual Large Basin on Mercury
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MESSENGER Discovers an Unusual Large Basin on Mercury

December 16, 2008
  • Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131766401
  • Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • Resolution: 430 meters/pixel (0.27 miles/pixel) near the top of the image
  • Scale: The top of this image is about 330 kilometers (210 miles) across
  • Spacecraft Altitude: 16,800 kilometers (10,400 miles)

Of Interest: This NAC image shows a view of the interior of a newly discovered large impact basin on Mercury, with a diameter of roughly 700 kilometers (430 miles). The basin was imaged as MESSENGER approached Mercury for the mission's second flyby of the innermost planet and was visible even on the optical navigation images. However, the high-resolution NAC images acquired as the spacecraft was closer to Mercury revealed unusual features associated with this basin. As seen in this NAC image, the basin floor has a set of radiating fractures that bear a similarity to the extensional troughs of Pantheon Fossae, imaged near the center of Caloris basin during MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby. The neighboring terrain to the left of this image, which can be viewed in a previously released NAC image, shows a long scarp within this basin. Members of the MESSENGER Science Team are currently mapping the features associated with this unusual basin and investigating the history of its formation and modification.

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