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Its Craters All the Way Down
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It's Craters All the Way Down

April 4, 2014
Release Date: March 31, 2014 Topics: NAC, Named Craters, Scarps Date acquired: March 1, 2014 Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 35963392 Image ID: 5850686 Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) Center Latitude: 55.89° Center Longitude: 303.66° E Resolution: 9 meters/pixel Scale: The crater in the lower center of the image is approximately 1.8 km (1.1 mi.) across Incidence Angle: 59.9° Emission Angle: 27.4° Phase Angle: 32.5° North is to the right in this scene. Of Interest: Like Friday's image, today we see Mercury's surface at an image resolution we have rarely come close to before. In this scene, a portion of the rim of an unnamed crater 17 km (11 mi.) in diameter is visible, atop which sits a smaller, later crater (lower center). The prolonged record of impact cratering on Mercury is one of the planet's most visible traits, yet we continue to see the results of that process with ever higher-resolution images. And so, even at resolutions of 9 meters (~30 feet) per pixel, we observe small primary and secondary craters peppering the surface of the innermost planet. 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. 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


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