Pencil This In: Mercury’s Surface is Darkened by Graphite

Monochromatic and covered in craters, Mercury may outwardly resemble our Moon but the similarities abruptly end there. Ever since the MESSENGER spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury in 2011, and indeed even since Mariner 10‘s flyby in 1974, peculiar “dark spots” observed on the planet’s surface have intrigued scientists as to their composition and origin. Now, thanks to high-resolution spectral…

This is Where MESSENGER Impacted Mercury

On April 30, 2015, after more than ten years in space – four of those in orbit –  MESSENGER‘s mission and operational life came to its conclusive (and expected) end when it impacted the surface of Mercury. While the spacecraft’s approximate impact location was predicted by mission engineers (it was out of sight of Earth at the time)…

Goodbye, MESSENGER. You May Be Gone But You Won’t Be Forgotten!

At 3:34 p.m. EDT (19:34 UTC) today, April 30, 2015, after more than ten years in space – and four of them in orbit –  the MESSENGER spacecraft’s operational life came to a conclusive end when it impacted the surface of Mercury, as planned. After revealing the surface of the innermost planet like no mission ever…

An Oblique View of Abedin Is One of MESSENGER’s Final Scenes

The 72-mile (116-km) -wide crater Adedin is seen at an oblique angle in this mosaic made from images acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. The angle highlights the crater’s central peak complex which surrounds a shallow depression that could have a volcanic origin, as well as fine cracks in the floor of its basin and a…

Here’s Your Chance to Name a Crater on Mercury!

On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER became the first human-made spacecraft to enter orbit around Mercury. Now almost four years, eight billion miles, and over 260,000 images later, MESSENGER is nearing the end of its operational life. To commemorate the many achievements of the mission, scientists from NASA and the MESSENGER teams at the Johns Hopkins…

MESSENGER Gets Up Close and Personal With Mercury

Mercury’s ready for its close-up, Mr. MESSENGER! At an incredible 5 meters per pixel, the image above is one of the highest-resolution images of Mercury’s surface ever captured. It was acquired on March 15 with the MESSENGER spacecraft’s MDIS (Mercury Dual Imaging System) instrument and shows an 8.3-km (5.2-mile) -wide section of the planet’s north polar region, speckled…

John Lennon Memorialized with a Crater on Mercury

33 years after his death, John Lennon’s name has been officially given to a crater on Mercury. Imagine that. The 95 km (59 mile) wide Lennon crater is one of ten newly named craters on the planet, joining 114 other craters named since NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft’s first Mercury flyby in January 2008.

The Other Side of ISON: Here’s the Comet as Seen from Mercury

While many skywatchers, scientists, and astronomy enthusiasts around the world wait to see if comet ISON survives its perihelion — that is, its closest pass by the Sun — on Nov. 28, the MESSENGER spacecraft has captured an image of the incoming comet from its position in orbit around Mercury! The image above, shared today…

Evidence of Ancient Aliens? Nah, It’s Just Pareidolia (Again)

You’ve heard of the Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars, now meet the Mercury Man! This image, obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft in July 2011, shows a portion of the floor of Caloris basin — the remnants of an enormous impact that occurred on Mercury nearly 4 billion years ago. Rising from…