Thursday, January 17, 2008

Messenger send home new pics of Mercury!

In preparation for its March 18, 2011 orbital insertion, NASA's Messenger space craft sent back pictures taken of the planet Mercury on its' first fly-by 1/14/08. Messenger will make 3 more close passes of the diminutive planet. The probe's first pass was less that 130 mile above the surface of Mercury and took many photographs of areas that have never been seen before. Mercury was last visited by Mariner 10 which flew by the innermost planet in 1975. MESSENGER is due to make a second rendezvous at Mercury in October, then swing by on third pass in September 2009. The probe will generate complete maps of Mercury's surface, measure the planet's gravitational field and search for any hints of ice at the bottom of permanently shadowed craters near the poles as part of its mission.

More story and pics from Messenger

Pictures from the Mariner 10 flybys

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

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


Robert M. Blevins said...

After reviewing the images, I think Mercury looks a lot like the Moon...although unlike the Moon, there may be volcanic activity on Mercury.


Paul said...

The only thing that I would mention that seems to be lacking is the seriously large impacts like Tyco. But considering that large impactors would have to run the gauntlet of all the other planets and and proto planets, I would suspect that the larger impactors would be few and far between by the time they get to Mercury's orbit. Then I would suspect that the sun would also be a major player in sucking up material from Mercury's orbit.