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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 13:38 EDT
Rays Rays Rays
682 of 1081

Rays, Rays, Rays

August 18, 2011
  • Date acquired: June 28, 2011
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 217735147
  • Image ID: 435804
  • Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
  • Center Latitude: -3.04°
  • Center Longitude: 165.0° E
  • Resolution: 1394 meters/pixel
  • Scale: Qi Baishi, the rayed crater near the center of this image, is 15 km (approximately 9 mi.) in diameter.
  • Incidence Angle: 6.4°
  • Emission Angle: 34.4°
  • Phase Angle: 28.0°


Of Interest: The spectacular rays of Raden Saleh, Qi Baishi, and Hovnatanian stretch across this image. Raden Saleh's rays are distributed mostly symmetrically around the crater. Qi Baishi's rays exhibit a zone of avoidance to the west. Hovnatanian's rays form a "butterfly" pattern and are absent to the north and south sides of the crater. Asymmetrical ray patterns are formed by objects that impact at relatively low incidence angles and can be used to determine the direction of impact.

This image was acquired as part of MDIS's color base map. The color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and will cover more than 90% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/pixel (0.6 miles/pixel). The highest-quality color images are obtained for Mercury's surface when both the spacecraft and the Sun are overhead, so these images typically are taken with viewing conditions of low incidence and emission angles.

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.