First Global Map of Mercury
Date: 15 Dec 2009
NASA's MESSENGER mission team and cartographic experts from the U. S. Geological Survey have created the first global mosaic of the planet Mercury. The map was created with images taken during the MESSENGER spacecraft's three flybys of the planet and those of Mariner 10 in the 1970s. The mosaic was designed to use to plan observations during the orbital phase on MESSENGER's mission. (Note: The image above is only a partial view of the map.)
The challenge was to make cartographically accurate maps from a series of images with varying resolution (from about 100 to 900 m per pixel) and lighting conditions (from noontime high sun to dawn and dusk) taken from a spacecraft traveling at speeds greater than 2 km per second (2,237 miles per hour).
The global mosaic is available for download on the USGS Map-a-Planet web site, http://www.mapaplanet.org.
Last Update: 1 Apr 2011 (AMB)