The nearest planet to the sun gets a close-up.
Science aside, the beautiful pictures of a moon-like planet covered in craters are sure to be a hit amongst space fanatics.
Messenger was launched on 3 August, 2004, and apparently stands for “MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geochemistry, and Ranging”. Even though NASA’s justification for names is lame, its spacecraft is not and it should be offering detail planetary maps of Mercury beyond 2011.
Although the NASA satellite Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times in 1974-75, it only managed to get data on less than 50 per cent of the surface.
Rumours abound that US banks are keen to invest in the Mercurian housing market.
These spectacular images of Mercury were beamed back to Earth on 7 October by the spacecraft Messenger and provide the highest level of photographic detail we’ve ever seen.
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