Mercury: Images of a Violent Planet

NASA's MESSGENGER spacecraft probes innermost planet in the solar system.

Mercury: Images of a Violent Planet

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On Oct. 6, 2008, at 4:40 a.m. ET, the Messenger spacecraft successfully completed its second flyby of Mercury. The next day, at 1:50 a.m. ET, the images taken during the encounter began to be received back on Earth. The image shown here is one of the first to be returned and shows Mercury about 90 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach to the planet. The bright crater just south of the center of the image is Kuiper, identified on images from the Mariner 10 mission in the 1970s. For most of the terrain east of Kuiper, toward the edge of the planet, the departing images are the first spacecraft views of that portion of Mercury's surface. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)
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