Menu
NASA: never-before-seen Mercury images

NASA: never-before-seen Mercury images

NASA's Messenger spacecraft sent back images of Mercury Tuesday morning, giving scientists information about never-before-seen areas of the planet that's closest to the sun.

One of the first images to come back from the spacecraft shows the Kuiper crater, which was first identified during the Mariner 10 mission in the 1970s, according to NASA. That same image also shows what NASA is calling a large pattern of rays that extend from the northern pole of Mercury south past the Kuiper crater.

Early Monday morning, Messenger raced past Mercury and snapped hundreds of pictures. NASA announced Monday that the spacecraft, armed with an array of six analysis instruments, flew just 200 kilometres above the planet's cratered surface at 4:40 a.m. Eastern Time.

Monday was the second of three Messenger passes over Mercury. It made its first flyby in January.

While Messenger was taking photos and collecting other data from the planet, it used Mercury's gravity to give it a "critical" assist to keep the probe on course. NASA scientists hope to move the spacecraft into position to actually begin orbiting Mercury in March 2011.

NASA hopes that Messenger becomes the first spacecraft to orbit the planet, which is only 58 million kilometers from the sun. In comparison, the Earth is 149,600,000 kilometers from the sun.

Part of Messenger's mission is to help scientists figure out whether there is ice hidden on the poles of Mercury. Finding ice there would be a major discovery, since the planet is so close to the sun, its surface is 11 times brighter than Earth's. NASA noted in online documents that while Mercury's surface temperatures can reach about 840 degrees Fahrenheit, deep craters near its poles are in the shade, and there the temperature can plummet to minus 350 F.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NASAinternational newsphoenix mars landermercuryorbiting Mercurymessenger space craft

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments