Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Uploader comment: In this image, Mercury's cratered surface stretches to the horizon. Limb images with the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) have been a part of MDIS imaging campaigns since the beginning of orbital operations. A few months ago, in June 2012, NAC images of Mercury's limb were added to the regular weekly observations, resulting in a few images each week with dramatic views of Mercury's horizon such as seen here. View this previous post to see a stunning mosaic of NAC limb images.
This image was acquired as part of 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. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.