Mercury’s Cratered Crescent (in Color!)

Every now and then a new gem of a color-composite appears in the Flickr photostream of Gordan Ugarkovic, and this one is the latest to materialize. This is a view of Mercury as seen by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft during a flyby in October 2008. The image is a composite of twenty separate frames acquired with MESSENGER’s…

Hidden Ice Found on Mercury!

Who says Mercury’s too hot to be really cool? Even three times closer to the Sun than we are, lacking atmosphere and with scorching daytime temperatures of 425 ºC (800 ºF), Mercury still has places more than cold enough to hide ice. This is the most recent announcement from the MESSENGER mission team: (very nearly) confirmed…

Mercury’s Sufferingly Sulf’rous Surface

Named for the 17th-century Venetian composer, the southern half of Mercury’s Vivaldi basin is seen in this image acquired on August 26 by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. The 213-km (132-mile) -wide crater’s smooth floor is contrasted by the incredibly rugged terrain beyond its outermost ring — a result of the ejected material that was flung out…

Rhapsody on an Impact Event: Mercury’s Rachmaninoff Crater

Rachmaninoff is a spectacular double-ring basin on Mercury, and this color view is one of the highest resolution color image sets acquired of the basin’s floor. Visible around the edges of the frame is a circle of mountains that make up Rachmaninoff’s peak ring structure. The color of the basin’s floor inside the peak-ring differs…

Goodbye, Earth!

If you haven’t seen this before, you’re probably not alone. It’s a video made from a series of several hundred images acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft as it swung past Earth, departing forever on its journey to Mercury on August 2, 2005 — just a day shy of one year after its launch. Many blogs…

MESSENGER Gets It “Donne”

Named after the 17th-century English metaphysical poet, Mercury’s Donne crater was captured in this image by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. The 53-mile (83-km) -wide crater features a large, rounded central peak and numerous lobate scarps lining its floor. What are lobate scarps? Find out more here.

A Blue Monday on Mercury

This latest image from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, now in its extended mission around Mercury, shows a color view of a section of the first planet’s rugged and sun-blasted surface.

An Artistic Array of Rays

Named after a 12th century Chinese artist, Xiao Zhao is a young 15-mile (24-kilometer) wide crater on Mercury. Its broad, bright rays indicate its youthfulness, as the lighter material ejected by the initial impact has not yet had enough time to grow dark. “Young” is a relative term, of course. On Mercury that can still mean…

Mercury’s “Smooth” Plains

Mercury has a vast region of smooth volcanic plains surrounding its northern polar region, wrapping over a third of the way around the planet. But even though the plains are called smooth, they are still characteristically rugged – made obvious in this narrow-angle camera image from MESSEGER acquired December 13. Being an area close to…

Spacecraft Discovers Mercury Truly Is a “Hollowed” Planet

…although not in the way some people mean by the term. 🙂 The latest featured image from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft shows the central peak of the 78-mile (138-km) – wide crater “Eminescu” surrounded by brightly-colored surface features called “hollows”. Actually tinted a light blue color, hollows may be signs of an erosion process unique to Mercury because of its…

Into The Darkness

The rugged terrain of Mercury’s north pole is made clear in this image from MESSENGER, taken on June 17, 2011. The shallow angle of sunlight striking the surface of our solar system’s innermost planet sends shadows across its landscape and highlights every rise and ridge. This scene shows an area about 74 miles across. MESSENGER…