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The Colorfield
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The Colorfield

September 9, 2013
Date acquired: April 22, 2011 Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 211937370, 211937378, 211937372 Image ID: 161451, 161456, 161452 Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) WAC filters: 9, 7, 6 (996, 748, 433 nanometers) in red, green, and blue Center Latitude: 30.04° Center Longitude: 239.9° E Resolution: 798 meters/pixel Scale: The scene is about 420 km (261 mi.) across Incidence Angle: 59.5° Emission Angle: 0.1° Phase Angle: 59.4° Of Interest: Presented here are nine views of the same colorful section of Mercury's surface. The first two rows are eight individual images taken through narrowband color filters with center wavelengths of 433, 480, 559, 629, 748, 829, 898, and 996 nanometers (nm). The color composite on the bottom is shown with the 996, 748, and 433 nm WAC filters for red, green, and blue. Color differences on Mercury are subtle, and no prominent features stand out in examination of the eight individual grey-scale images. However, the bluish nature of the crater rays on the left and the reddish cast of the material surrounding the impact crater Erte at right become apparent when the images are co-registered. Erte was seen recently in a three-dimensional close-up! This image was acquired as part of MDIS's 8-color base map. The 8-color base map is composed of WAC images taken through eight different narrow-band color filters and covers more than 99% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of 1 kilometer/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. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington