Scanning through Merlin this afternoon looking for interesting pictures, what caught my eye were images from NASA of the planet Mercury. The picture above was taken by the spacecraft Messenger and is the first image ever made from a spacecraft while in orbit around Mercury.
The photograph below, taken in 2008, shows the eastern part of Mercury, the smallest and closest planet in our solar system. The colors in this picture are different than what would be seen with the naked eye, but show information about the different rock types and subtle color variations on the oddball planet. The bright yellow part is the Caloris impact basin, which is the site of one of the biggest in the solar system. For the first time, Earth has a regular orbiting eye-in-the-sky spying on the solar system’s smallest and strangest planet, Mercury. NASA’s spacecraft called Messenger successfully veered into a pinpoint orbit Thursday night after a 6 1/2-year trip and 4.9 billion miles and tricky maneuvering to fend off the gravitational pull of the sun. It is the fifth planet in our solar system that NASA has orbited, in addition to the Earth and the moon.
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