These three images are of Mercury's far-northern "Arctic" region, skirting the 80° N latitude circle, and bring us a glimpse of territory not previously imaged by spacecraft. MESSENGER engineering , instrument, operations, and science teams are checking the performance of the spacecraft and science instruments in the challenging environment in orbit around the planet closest to the Sun. These images and others collected during this "commissioning period" afford an opportunity to test our ability to mosaic overlapping images. These three images were binned on the spacecraft from their original 1024 × 1024 pixel size to 256 × 256. This type of image compression helps to reduce the amount of data that must be downlinked across interplanetary space from MESSENGER to the Deep Space Network on Earth. The images here are not map projected but have been rotated so that north is approximately toward the top.
Date acquired: March 30, 2011
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington