Jan 15

The Rolling Hills of Mercury

This incredible image attests to how the MESSENGER spacecraft is now able to resolve Mercury's surface: with a resolution of a little more than five meters (seventeen feet) per pixel, a person of average walking pace could cross this scene in about an hour. The image shows the fine texture on the inner wall of an unnamed impact basin 100 km (62 mi.) in diameter, situated immediately west of the larger Dali basin. Both this basin and its larger neighbor are filled with smooth plains and deformed by lobate scarps and wrinkle ridges.
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. In the mission's more than three years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
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