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#1 2015-02-14 10:02:41

Tom Kalbfus
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Spacecraft captures one of the closest photos of Mercury we’ve ever se

Spacecraft captures one of the closest photos of Mercury we’ve ever seen

Read more: … z3RjbrzKLf

Mercury's horizon cuts a striking edge against the stark blackness of space. On the right, sunlight harshly brings the landscape into relief while on the left, the surface is shrouded in the darkness of night.
The valiant MESSENGER spacecraft made Earth, Venus and Mercury flybys before its Mercury orbit four years ago. Soon it'll crash into Mercury, but for now … new images!

The MESSENGER spacecraft acquired this image (below) of Mercury on January 23, 2015, at a time when this part of Mercury was near sunset. It's one of the highest-resolution images yet obtained of Mercury. The area shown is 6.3 kilometers / 3.9 miles wide.

It's located within what is called the Hokusai Quadrangle in the northern hemisphere on Mercury. The image shows terraces on a west-facing crater wall. The terracing forms just after the crater is excavated by the impact, and the walls are too steep to support themselves, causing slumping.

This is an image from the NAC low-altitude, high-resolution imaging campaign.
The exterior of this unnamed crater is in shadow, while the inner wall and terraces bask in the sunshine. Terraces form just after the crater has been excavated, when oversteepened slopes slump back down.

The MESSENGER mission has been a huge and unqualified success. Launched on August 3, 2004, this valiant little spacecraft completed an Earth flyby, 2 Venus flybys and 3 Mercury flybys before orbital insertion around Mercury on March 18, 2011. As it is now running low on the propellant needed for course adjustments, MESSENGER will soon suffer orbital decay and ultimately is destined to crash into Mercury.


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