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Bright and Dark Craters
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Bright and Dark Craters

June 28, 2011
  • Date acquired: June 07, 2011
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 215940577
  • Image ID: 349800
  • Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • Center Latitude: -17.25°
  • Center Longitude: 182.2° E
  • Resolution: 141 meters/pixel
  • Scale: Kālidāsa crater is approximately 100 km (62 mi) in diameter.
  • Incidence Angle: 17.4°
  • Emission Angle: 65.8°
  • Phase Angle: 78.3°


Of Interest: This image depicts a stark contrast between albedo differences on Mercury. The crater Kālidāsa, located in the bottom left of the image, contains a smaller but exceptionally bright crater on its floor. Nearby to the southwest, low reflectance material (LRM) is found on Kālidāsa's floor. LRM is also visible at the upper right corner of the image. The law of superposition tells us that Kālidāsa must have formed before the small bright crater.

This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions higher than the 250-meter/pixel (820 feet/pixel) morphology base map or the 1-kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel) color base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution during MESSENGER's one-year mission, but several areas of high scientific interest are generally imaged in this mode each week.

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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