One of the largest young craters on Mercury, 71 mile diameter Hokusai crater’s bright rays are known to extend across much of the planet. But this mosaic of oblique views focuses on Hokusai close up, its sunlit central peaks, terraced crater walls, and frozen sea of impact melt on the crater’s floor. The images were captured by the MESSENGER spacecraft. The first to orbit Mercury, since 2011 MESSENGER has conducted scientific explorations, including extensive imaging of the Solar System’s innermost planet.
The mission was headed the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory After running out of propellant and unable to counter orbital perturbations caused by the Sun’s gravity, MESSENGER impacted the surface of Mercury on April 30 at a little under 9,000 mph and created a new crater on the planet’s surface at 3:26 p.m. EST. No telescope on Earth nor orbiting us was able to view the impact, since the sun would damage optics at a cost greater than the value of the spectacular footage that might have been caught. The mission was called to an end shortly after at 3:40 pm when NASA’s Deep Space Network no longer had a confirmed transmission signal.
Here are a five (5) new craters named from the mission’s successful surveillence of Mercury: