30 March 2011

First Image of Mercury from Orbit

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Check it out: MESSENGER just returned the first image of Mercury ever taken from orbit around the planet. Surprise! It’s gray and cratered! You can see some spectacular rays from the large impact crater Debussy in the upper portion of the image, and the low sun angle near the bottom of the image really highlights the topography of Mercury’s pock-marked surface.

MESSENGER is still in its commissioning phase as the scientists and engineers on the team make sure everything is working properly. Once the science phase gets started on April 4, we’ll be seeing a lot more pictures. At least 75,000 to be precise!