quinta-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2008

Novas imagens de alta resolução da superfície de Mercúrio

À medida que vão sendo processadas as imagens da primeira aproximação da MESSENGER a Mercúrio, vão sendo divulgadas novas imagens de alta definição da superfície. São de esperar mais imagens nos próximos dias.

Clique nas imagens para aumentar.


As MESSENGER approached Mercury on January 14, 2008, the spacecraft’s Narrow-Angle Camera on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) instrument captured this view of the planet’s rugged, cratered landscape illuminated obliquely by the Sun. The large, shadow-filled, double ringed crater to the upper right was glimpsed by Mariner 10 more than three decades ago and named Vivaldi, after the Italian composer. Its outer ring has a diameter of about 200 kilometers (about 125 miles). MESSENGER’s modern camera has revealed detail that was not well seen by Mariner 10, including the broad ancient depression overlapped by the lower-left part of the Vivaldi crater. The MESSENGER science team is in the process of evaluating later images snapped from even closer range showing features on the side of Mercury never seen by Mariner 10. It is already clear that MESSENGER’s superior camera will tell us much that could not be resolved even on the side of Mercury viewed by Mariner’s vidicon camera in the mid-1970s.

This MESSENGER image was taken from a distance of about18,000 kilometers (11,000 miles), about 56 minutes before the spacecraft's closest encounter with Mercury. It shows a region roughly 500 kilometers (300 miles) across, and craters as small as 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) can be seen in this image.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Just 21 minutes after MESSENGER’s closest approach to Mercury, the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) took this picture showing a variety of intriguing surface features, including craters as small as about 300 meters (about 300 yards) across. This is one of a set of 68 NAC images showing landscapes near Mercury’s equator on the side of the planet never before imaged by spacecraft. From such highly detailed close-ups, planetary geologists can study the processes that have shaped Mercury’s surface over the past 4 billion years. One of the highest and longest scarps (cliffs) yet seen on Mercury curves from the top center down across the right side of this image. (The Sun is shining low from the left, so the scarp casts a wide shadow.) Great forces in Mercury’s crust have thrust the terrain occupying the left two-thirds of the picture up and over the terrain to the right. An impact crater has subsequently destroyed a small part of the scarp near the top of the image.

This image was taken from a distance of only 5,800 kilometers (3,600 miles) from surface of the planet and shows a region about 170 kilometers (about 100 miles) across.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

During its flyby of Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft acquired high-resolution images of the planet's surface. This image, taken by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), was obtained on January 14, 2008, about 37 minutes after MESSENGER's closest approach to the planet. The image reveals the surface of Mercury at a resolution of about 360 meters/pixel (about 1180 feet/pixel), and the width of the image is about 370 kilometers (about 230 miles). This image is the 98th in a set of 99 images that were taken in a pattern of 9 rows and 11 columns to enable the creation of a large, high-resolution mosaic of the northeast quarter of the region not seen by Mariner 10. During the encounter with Mercury, the MDIS instrument acquired image sets for seven large mosaics with the NAC.

This image shows a previously unseen crater with distinctive bright rays of ejected material extending radially outward from the crater's center. A chain of craters nearby is also visible. Studying impact craters provides insight into the history and composition of Mercury as well as dynamical processes that occurred throughout our Solar System. The MESSENGER Science Team has begun analyzing these high-resolution images to unravel these fundamental questions.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

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