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The Dark Side of the Crater
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The Dark Side of the Crater

June 28, 2011
  • Date acquired: May 16, 2011
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 214069811
  • Image ID: 261720
  • Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
  • Center Latitude: -8.82°
  • Center Longitude: 254.9° E
  • Resolution: 294 meters/pixel
  • Scale: The center crater is approximately 13 km (8 mi) in diameter.
  • Incidence Angle: 41.8°
  • Emission Angle: 25.6°
  • Phase Angle: 67.4°


Of Interest: The bright rayed crater that dominates this image contains a darker material that appears to be impact melt that flowed out of the crater. This low reflectance material is increasingly identified as more of Mercury's surface is revealed in detail by MESSENGER images. Other areas that display low reflectance material include Derain and Matabei, though those dark deposits appear to have formed differently than the impact melt flow shown here.

This image was acquired as part of MDIS's high-resolution surface morphology base map. The surface morphology base map will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 250 meters/pixel (0.16 miles/pixel or 820 feet/pixel). Images acquired for the surface morphology base map typically have off-vertical Sun angles (i.e., high incidence angles) and visible shadows so as to reveal clearly the topographic form of geologic features.

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. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.


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