Mercury’s Curious Hollows

As part of a wealth of new information presented today by the MESSENGER science team, this image shows the interior of Sander Crater, located within Mercury’s vast Caloris Basin. Areas seen as bright spots in previous lower-resolution images have been revisited by MESSENGER once it entered orbit and began its science mission. The bright areas…

Oh What a Relief it Is!

With the sun striking Mercury’s landscape at a low angle, MESSENGER got a great look at the hilly topography of a region along the southwestern rim of the Caloris Basin. This particular area had only previously been imaged by MESSENGER under direct sunlight, and thus the relief in the terrain was not nearly as evident. Mercury’s…

Where The Craters Have No Name

The latest in a series of new images coming in almost daily from the MESSENGER spacecraft currently in orbit around Mercury, this is a look at an unnamed crater on Mercury’s southern hemisphere. The smooth crater floor is likely due to impact melt that formed during the collision that produced the crater. Also visible are…

A “Feast of New Observations” from Mercury

This image, a color view of the northwestern rim of the 32-mile-wide Degas crater on Mercury, is just one of the most recent images to come in from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. It has been in orbit around Mercury since March 18 – just under three months – and already its findings have revolutionized what we…

Messages from Mercury

It’s been over two months since the MESSENGER spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Mercury, back on March 18, and it’s been enthusiastically returning image after image of our solar system’s innermost planet at a unprecedented rate. Which, of course, is just fine with me! The image above shows Mercury’s southern hemisphere and the bright rays…

Yes, They’re Real

The craters Spitteler and Holberg are prominently featured in this new image from the MESSENGER spacecraft, in orbit around Mercury. (Spitteler, about 42 miles wide, is the one on the left.) These two craters were previously observed by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974 but MESSENGER’s close polar orbit gives scientists a new look. The craters…

The Colors of Mercury

Another new wide-angle image from MESSENGER in orbit, this is a color image of Mercury made from data taken in red, green and blue visible light wavelengths. Variations in surface textures and colorations can be seen, as well as long bright streaks running horizontally  – these are the ejecta rays extending from Hokusai Crater, off-frame…

Catchin’ Some Rays

One of the newest images from MESSENGER, now nice and comfy in orbit around Mercury, is of the bright Debussy crater and part of its extensive system of surrounding ejecta rays. The crater’s jagged central peak can be seen in this top-down view from the spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera (NAC). Also, here’s a new image of…

Is Mercury Hiding Water Ice?

  A new image from MESSENGER showing craters amidst smooth plains. Acquired March 29, 2011.   A new image from MESSENGER, released today March 30, 2011, shows relatively smooth plains near Mercury’s north pole dotted by some relatively large craters. Seen at an oblique angle, the low angle of sunlight emphasizes the relief of the…

First Image from Mercury Orbit!

It’s been over 11 days since MESSENGER established orbit around the planet Mercury, and we now have THE first image from orbit! The image above was obtained this morning, March 29 at 5:20am EDT as MESSENGER was above Mercury’s south pole – a portion of which has never previously been imaged by spacecraft. Click here…

Success! Mercury has a new satellite named MESSENGER!

During a week of not-so-great news in the world (to understate things by quite a lot) it’s nice to report something good: the MESSENGER spacecraft has successfully established orbit around the planet Mercury, beginning its new 12-month mission of mapping and researching the innermost planet of our solar system! After traveling nearly 5 billion miles…