First image of Mercury from orbit released
March 29th, 2011
10:57 PM ET

First image of Mercury from orbit released

NASA released an image of the planet Mercury on Tuesday, the first obtained from a spacecraft orbiting the solar system's innermost planet.

The image is the first of many expected to come from the Messenger probe, the first space mission to orbit the planet closest to the sun. The Messenger spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, started its historic orbit around Mercury on March 17.

The dominant rayed crater in the upper portion of the image is Debussy, according to NASA. The smaller crater, Matabei, with its dark rays, is visible to the west of Debussy. The bottom portion of the full image, which can be seen here,  is near Mercury's south pole and includes a region of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft.

Over the next three days, Messenger will acquire 1,185 more images in support of a phase to review spacecraft and instrument performance. The yearlong primary science phase of the mission will begin on April 4, during which it is expected to acquire more than 75,000 images.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the Messenger spacecraft and manages the Discovery-class mission for NASA. Messenger stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging.

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soundoff (582 Responses)
  1. Google

    I'm just web crawling and this looked interesting. I bet you one day I will be bigger than all of you.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Zulu the last planet

    Im so far away and thought I saw a face on the full pic........ Anyone else?

    March 30, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. David Bowman, U.S.S. Discovery

    ALL THESE WORLDS

    ARE YOURS EXCEPT

    EUROPA

    ATTEMPT NO

    LANDING THERE

    USE THEM TOGETHER

    USE THEM IN PEACE

    March 30, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Victor

    Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. http://www.ebiblefellowship.com/may21
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihs4lZhidlY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCeYHyZpzc4&feature=related

    March 30, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tomorrow

      And what will you say on May 22? Whoops wrong year? or maybe it was GMT -0 or maybe GMT -8 or what? you can 't say for certain the world will end without saying exactly when. Read more books and you'll realize this simple truth.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    All animals can breed .humans can study big questions thats what seperates up from other mammals and opposable thumbs

    March 30, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • 2012

      People think I spell doom and really I just bring a new beginning. One without bad people that bring ruin to my friend the Earth

      March 30, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    All animals can breed .humans can study big questions thats what seperates us from other mammals and opposable thumbs

    March 30, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Internet

    My S3x life is better than all of yours

    March 30, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    All animals can breed .humans can study big questions thats what seperates us from other mammals and we have opposable thumbs

    March 30, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mercury Typo

    I'm PI$$ED at who ever file named the MERCURY JPEG photo. When you left-click to copy it, the file name is ... t1larg.messenger.venus.nasa.jpg ... This is my day in the sun not that fluzzy Venus...

    March 30, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. God

    Guess i scewed up big time while on my millenial vaction in the Anodromeda galaxy, oh well, guess its back to the drawing board.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Humanity

      Wait! Give us a boost first!

      March 30, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    I sorry I go now I not know this a retard thread effin kooks

    March 30, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    For years, i`ve wondered why reality tv continues to be popular. After seeing how much time and effort everyone has put into such stupid comments, I have my answer.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Serious Person

      This just in: The internet is SERIOUS BUSINESS

      March 30, 2011 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. clive

    This is what Planet earth will look like once we're through with it.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Satan

    Does anyone know where Charlie Sheen and Betty White are? they're due any minute.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      We are shacked up together at motel 6. After all Tom Bodet did leave the light on for us..

      March 30, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pluto's Revenge

    I always love seeing these photos...I hope one of the photos shows a Starbucks with a drive-through.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
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