Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 5:21 EDT
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July 30, 2012
This color image shows Rustaveli, a newly named basin located in the Northern hemisphere of the planet. The basin has a smooth, filled floor with little weathering and a peak-ring structure. Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet who lived from 1172-1216. He is well known for writing the Georgian national epic poem, "The Knight in the Panther's Skin". He is also the namesake of the coveted Shota Rustaveli State Prize, the highest honor a Georgian artist or writer can achieve. This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted color observation. Targeted color observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions higher than the 1-kilometer/pixel 8-color base map. During MESSENGER's one-year primary mission, hundreds of targeted color observations were obtained. During MESSENGER's extended mission, high-resolution targeted color observations are more rare, as the 3-color base map is covering Mercury's northern hemisphere with the highest-resolution color images that are possible. 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, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington