NASA releases picture of Mercury's surface (Update)

March 30, 2011
At 5:20 am EDT on Mar. 29, 2011, MESSENGER captured this historic image of Mercury. This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the Solar System's innermost planet. Over the subsequent six hours, MESSENGER acquired an additional 363 images before downlinking some of the data to Earth. The MESSENGER team is currently looking over the newly returned data, which are still continuing to come down. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

NASA on Tuesday released the first picture taken of Mercury's surface by the US space agency's orbiting Messenger craft.

"Early this morning, at 5:20 am EDT (0920 GMT), Messenger captured this historic image of Mercury," NASA said.

"This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the solar system's innermost planet."

The spacecraft snapped 363 images over the next six hours, and more were expected to be released Wednesday in conjunction with an expert press conference to discuss the findings.

The upper part of the image shows an unusual, dark-rayed crater called Debussy, while the lower part reveals a portion of Mercury near its south pole that has never before been witnessed by spacecraft, NASA said.

NASA's Messenger craft -- which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging -- became the first vehicle to orbit Mercury on March 17.

Messenger was launched more than six years ago, traveling through the inner solar system and embarking on flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury.

The first NASA craft to study Mercury since the Mariner mission more than three decades ago, Messenger has already been able to return a partial map of the planet's crater-filled surface after just a handful of flybys.

Explore further: NASA rescheduled MESSENGER start to Mercury to August 3

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12 comments

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_am_am_il
not rated yet Mar 29, 2011
I wonder what those paths are leaving from the middle.. ??
eigenbasis
not rated yet Mar 29, 2011
typo *seen not seeb
plasticpower
5 / 5 (6) Mar 29, 2011
They could have at least included a link to the images, now I have to go dig around NASA's website..
haversine
5 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2011
Start the countdown until some goober claims they've spotted a pyramid or the face of Elvis.
Yellowdart
2.7 / 5 (7) Mar 30, 2011
Totally looks like the dark side of the moon... :)

I wonder what those paths are leaving from the middle.. ??


NASA picked a fight with a warlock?? :)
Lischyn
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2011
Those paths are canals from a long gone advanced civilization that vacated Mercury when it got too hot and resettled on Mars.
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2011
Great, now how about we devote some resources to being able to get people back to LEO without having to rely on the Russians....
GSwift7
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2011
Start the countdown until some goober claims they've spotted a pyramid or the face of Elvis


If you turn the picture upside down and and look at the top left corner and then adjust the contrast of your monitor to max and look at it through a glass of water then you can clearly see the score of the upcoming India/Pakistan cricket world cup. I've already placed my bet.

Also, if you look at it the normal way, it says "oooooooooo" all the way accross the planet. I think Mercury is surprised to see us. Either that or it's a message in monary code. /sarc
Bizzles13
3 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2011

Also, if you look at it the normal way, it says "oooooooooo" all the way accross the planet. I think Mercury is surprised to see us. Either that or it's a message in monary code. /sarc


No silly, it's obviously made of Cheerios.
Yellowdart
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2011
+1 to the both of you.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2011
No silly, it's obviously made of Cheerios


We could both be right. The cherios could be saying "Oooooo". Think outside the box!!

If only the moon were still made of milk....
panorama
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2011
If only the moon were still made of milk....

It curdled in to cheese about 6000 years ago.

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