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A Global View from Orbit

Friday 20 January 2012

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


Instrument: Mercury Dual Imaging System – Narrow Angle and Wide Angle.

The above image shows a global mosaic that covers over 99.9% of Mercury’s surface! This mosaic is made primarily of MDIS images acquired as part of the surface morphology base map, which during the first six months of MESSENGER’s orbital mission mapped over 98.7% of the surface with nearly 22,000 images. Variations in the morphological appearance of the surface are due to differences in the Sun illumination conditions and viewing geometries for the different images taken over those six months. In this mosaic, small gaps in the surface morphology base map have been filled by images taken as part of the color base map imaging campaign. A few remaining gaps have been filled by data obtained by a combination of Mariner 10 and MESSENGER flybys, most of which is visible near the north pole.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER’s science goals.

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