day, another beautiful view of Mercury's horizon. In this scene, which
was acquired looking from the shadows toward the sunlit side of the
planet, a 120-km (75 mi.) impact crater stands out near the center.
Emanating from this unnamed crater are striking chains of secondary
craters, which gouged linear tracks radially away from the crater. While
this crater is not especially fresh (its rays have faded into the
background), it does appear to have more prominent secondary crater
chains than many of its peers.
This image was acquired on Oct. 2, 2013 by the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, as
part of the MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures
images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern
hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's
shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury
Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.
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
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington