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. Humanity

    Oh, the me!

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

    Nobody loves me...

    March 30, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Charlie Sheen

    I'm winning!! Satan go away I'll visit you when I'm dead

    March 30, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Krypton

    Too bad I've already been destroyed...

    March 30, 2011 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Oort Cloud

    I EXIST!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. Charlie Sheen

    You seen my cooking show, One day I'll be able to cook my own co caine, google it, I plan on being on every channel

    March 30, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Confucius say


    March 30, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. saturn

    Jupiter wants me to show him some skin by taking my rings off! Can u believe that A hole?!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Evolution

    I can't believe people still believe in me. I've mislead everyone for hundreds of years and they still think I'm right. lol Boy oh boy just wait till I tell them about how they are all suppose to be able to fly. They might just start jumping from roof tops. Time for popcorn!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Saturn

    For a good time give me a ring

    March 30, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
    • David Bowman, U.S.S. Discovery


      March 30, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Colt 45

    I think we chose to go to the moon because it was there-and our first stop in our quest to reach the stars!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Moon

      I've never seen anybody. your a fool to believe such lies

      March 30, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jake

    But did they find any lemon trees?

    March 30, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Black Hole

    And I am what is to become of all of you! RAWR!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Adam Pacholka

    Astropics by my Uncle are sick too! I think the solitude is getting to him though. God so loved the Earth however, that he sent himself in the shape of a Man as his Son to offer salvation to the people of Earth. Why when so many want to believe in extraterrestrials no one thinks that God is the extraterrestrial. In the Sword of the Spirit, we are told that those who believe, thus changing their lives, are not of this World. Not enough time for hatred. God bless Earth and all its inhabitants.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mursal Lhokseumawe

    human life time too short to surfing outer planets. Kindly we think for living amity among human beings, great tolerance, cross religions and races, and heal the world for better quality. Only moon we can dream for new hope.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
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