First Image Ever Obtained from Mercury Orbit
Date: 29 Mar 2011
This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit around our solar system's innermost planet.
Over the subsequent six hours, MESSENGER acquired an additional 363 images before downlinking some of the data to Earth.
The dominant rayed crater in the upper portion of the image is Debussy. The smaller crater Matabei with its unusual dark rays is visible to the west of Debussy. The bottom portion of this image is near Mercury's south pole and includes a region of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft. Compare this image to the planned image footprint to see the region of newly imaged terrain, south of Debussy. Over the next three days, MESSENGER will acquire 1185 additional images in support of MDIS commissioning-phase activities. The year-long primary science phase of the mission will begin on April 4, and the orbital observation plan calls for MDIS to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER's science goals.
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury.
Last Update: 24 Mar 2011 (PWD)
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington