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Big Things Have Small Beginnings
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Big Things Have Small Beginnings

February 13, 2013
Release Date: January 31, 2013 Topics: NAC, Scarps, Tectonics Date acquired: April 04, 2012 Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 234154717 Image ID: 1222306 Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) Center Latitude: 29.31° Center Longitude: 91.01° E Resolution: 46 meters/pixel Scale: The crater to the top right is ~18 km (11 mi.) in diameter Incidence Angle: 51.6° Emission Angle: 14.5° Phase Angle: 38.1° North is to the bottom-right corner of this image Of Interest: The surface of Mercury has been extensively deformed by tectonic activity, with most of that activity due to the global-scale contraction of the planet as its interior cooled. This tectonic deformation is largely manifest as contractional lobate scarps, many of which are hundreds or even thousands of meters high. This image shows a scarp only ~150 m (500 ft.) high, considerably smaller than many of its peers across the planet. This structure's relatively small size suggests either that it accommodated but a relatively small amount of deformation over its lifetime, or that it is one of the youngest lobate scarps on Mercury. This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are 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, 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