Mercury’s Munch crater with a diameter of 58 kilometers (36 miles) is situated in the far northern part of the Caloris basin, the youngest large impact basin on Mercury.
The floor of the Caloris basin has been flooded with volcanic flows. The ejecta-blanket surrounding the Munch crater contains dark material that originated at depth and was excavated by the Munch-forming impact.
The presence of both bright and dark materials suggest that there is a diversity of rock types on and below Mercury’s surface, with different mineralogical compositions from those of the volcanic plains that comprise the majority of the floor of Caloris basin.
This image, created on February 10, 2012, is a portion of the MDIS global mosaic basemap that was acquired during MESSENGER’s first year in orbit. The scene shows a dramatic close-up of Munch crater, named for the Norwegian impressionist painter, printmaker, and draftsman Edvard Munch (1863-1944). (That is the one who painted “The Scream” which was sold at auction for $119.9 million, becoming one of the most expensive pieces of artwork in the world.)
The MESSENGER spacecraft (which entered orbit around the planet Mercury on March 18, 2011) 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. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a year-long extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER’s science goals.