A Multitude of Rays
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A Multitude of Rays

August 18, 2011
  • Date acquired: June 21, 2011
  • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 217179524
  • Image ID: 409150
  • Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
  • Center Latitude: -21.91°
  • Center Longitude: 219.6° E
  • Resolution: 1402 meters/pixel
  • Scale: The diameter of Bartok crater is approximately 116 km (72 miles)
  • Incidence Angle: 45.4°
  • Emission Angle: 0.6°
  • Phase Angle: 45.7°

Of Interest: Crater rays, which are often present around fresh craters, are numerous in this image. Both Bartok crater (crater with prominent central peak in the southeast) and Schoenberg crater (north of Bartok) have visible crater rays, as do a number of unnamed craters in this image. In the southwestern-most corner of this scene is a section of a ray from Basho crater, located approximately 36 degrees longitude away from Bartok crater (one tenth of the planet in distance).

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.

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