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Mercury, as seen by Messenger. The craft will circle the sun’s closest planetary companion for a year, mapping out Mercury's surface.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

The crater Machaut, about 60 miles in diameter, was first seen under high-sun conditions by Mariner 10 in the 1970s. This image shows an amazing new view of Machaut taken during Messenger's second fly-by of Mercury. The slanting rays of the Sun cast shadows that reveal numerous small craters and intricate features. The largest crater within Machaut appears to have been inundated by lava flows similar to those that have filled most of the floor of the larger feature. The adjacent, slightly smaller crater was formed at a later time and excavated material below the lava-formed surface.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

About 58 minutes before Messenger's closest approach to Mercury, the NAC, or narrow angle camera, captured this close-up image of a portion of the planet's surface. The features in the foreground, near the right side of the image, are close to the terminator, the line between the sunlit and the dark sides of the planet, so shadows are long and prominent. Two very long scarps, or cliffs, are visible in this region. The easternmost scarp also cuts through a crater, indicating that it formed after the impact that created the crater. Other neighboring impact craters, such as in the upper left of this image, appear to be filled with smooth plains material.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

The Debussy crater is seen at the top of the image in great detail. The Messenger mission will observe Mercury's magnetic fields and examine its surface composition.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

Among the mysteries scientists are looking to settle with the spacecraft’s septet of instruments is whether there is ice in Mercury’s polar caps.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

This image taken by Messenger's wide angle camera was snapped nine minutes and 14 seconds after the spacecraft's closest approach to Mercury on its second fly-by. An impact feature at the top of the image is called Polygnotus and is about 83 miles in diameter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

Earth, as photographed by Messenger.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA / Johns Hopkins University

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1 Comment

  1. March 31, 2011, 12:14 am

    in fact,i am very much happy to have read this article,i say more grease to your elbow

    By: ndukwe frank

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