So That's What Mercury Looks Like

Posted by David Ozanich — 30 Mar 2011


Launched on August 3rd, 2004, NASA's spacecraft Messenger has finally made it to its destination. It began its historic orbit around Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, on March 17th and this first up-close picture has just been released. More from CNN:

The dominant rayed crater in the upper portion of the image is Debussy, according to NASA. The smaller crater, Matabei, with its dark rays, is visible to the west of Debussy. The bottom portion of the full image, which can be seen here,  is near Mercury's south pole and includes a region of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft.

Over the next three days, Messenger will acquire 1,185 more images in support of a phase to review spacecraft and instrument performance. The yearlong primary science phase of the mission will begin on April 4, during which it is expected to acquire more than 75,000 images.

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