South Pole - Take 71
September 27, 2011
Date acquired: August 23, 2011 Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 222584422 Image ID: 667201 Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers) Center Latitude: -90° Center Longitude: 0° E Resolution: 1500 meters/pixel Scale: The diameter of this polar projection is 1,700 kilometers (1,060 miles) Of Interest: This image is shown in a polar stereographic projection, with the south pole at the center, 0° longitude at the top, and 90° E longitude to the right. The image extends to -70° S latitude in all directions. Compare this image to ones obtained earlier in the mission, on April 13, 2011, and May 4, 2011. This image was acquired as part of MDIS's campaign to monitor the south polar region of Mercury, and it is the 71st of 89 total WAC images planned. By imaging the polar region every four MESSENGER orbits as illumination conditions change, features that were in shadow on earlier orbits can be discerned and any permanently shadowed areas can be identified after repeated imaging over one solar day. During MESSENGER's one-year mission, MDIS's WAC is used to monitor the south polar region for the first Mercury solar day (176 Earth days), and MDIS's NAC is used for imaging the south polar region during the second Mercury solar day. 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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