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A Closer Look At The Previously Unseen Side Of Mercury

by Staff Writers
Laurel MD (SPX) Jan 29, 2008
This image, taken by the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), shows a closer view of the territory on the previously unseen side of Mercury that was captured by MESSENGER on the 14/010/08. Just above and to the left of center of this image is a small crater with a pronounced set of bright rays extending across Mercury's surface away from the crater.

Bright rays are commonly made in a crater-forming explosion when an asteroid strikes the surface of an airless body like the Moon or Mercury. But rays fade with time as tiny meteoroids and particles from the solar wind strike the surface and darken the rays.

The prominence of these rays implies that the small crater at the center of the ray pattern formed comparatively recently.

This image is one in a planned set of 99. Nine different views of Mercury were snapped in this set to create a mosaic pattern with images in three rows and three columns. The WAC is equipped with 11 narrow-band color filters, and each of the nine different views was acquired through all 11 filters.

This image was taken in filter 7, which is sensitive to light near the red end of the visible spectrum (750 nm), and shows features as small as about 6 kilometers (4 miles) in size. The MESSENGER team is studying this previously unseen side of Mercury in detail to map and identify new geologic features and to construct the planet's geological history.

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Counting The Craters Of Mercury Begins
Laurel MD (SPX) Jan 28, 2008
On January 14, 2008, MESSENGER flew by Mercury and snapped images of a large portion of the surface that had not been previously seen by spacecraft. Ever since the first images were received back on Earth one day later, January 15, MESSENGER team members have been closely examining and studying this "new" terrain with great interest and excitement.

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