Where The Craters Have No Name

An unnamed crater complex on Mercury's southern hemisphere.

The latest in a series of new images coming in almost daily from the MESSENGER spacecraft currently in orbit around Mercury, this is a look at an unnamed crater on Mercury’s southern hemisphere.

The smooth crater floor is likely due to impact melt that formed during the collision that produced the crater. Also visible are the peak ring and terraced walls, as well as the smoother-textured ejecta blanket and a large field of secondary craters and crater chains.

The large crater has a diameter of about 96 miles (155 km). What do you know that’s as long or less than 96 miles? Your county? Your state? A familiar drive, perhaps? Well, they could all fit within that one crater!

The image was obtained by MESSENGER’s Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) on July 25, 2011. Read more on the mission site here.

On March 17, 2011, MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury. The mission is currently in its commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. In the course of the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation will unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington. Edited by J. Major (rotated and sharpened to increase detail.)