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Astronomy in the News

Mercury Winter 2008 Table of Contents


Mercury

Image courtesy of NASA / JHUAPL / Carnegie Institution

MESSENGER's First Look at Mercury's Previously Unseen Side

NASA / JHUAPL

When Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975, the same hemisphere was in sunlight during each encounter. As a consequence, Mariner 10 was able to image less than half the planet.

On January 14, 2008, the MESSENGER spacecraft observed about half of the hemisphere missed by Mariner 10. Other images obtained during the flyby will reveal surface features in color and in much more detail. Collectively, these images and measurements made by other MESSENGER instruments will soon provide a detailed global view of the surface of Mercury, yielding key information for understanding the formation and geologic history of the innermost planet.

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