MESSENGER: first picture from orbit

As promised, the MESSENGER spacecraft has produced its first picture from orbit

MESSENGER first image from orbit

Mercury looks a lot like the Moon. A high level of impact cratering (without the extensive lunar marae on the near side which are the result of flood vulcanism) is seen.

Of course, the big difference is that the Moon was formed from the remnants of a massive collision between the proto-Earth and a large Mars-sized impactor 4.5 billion years ago.

There is some evidence of flood vulcanism on Mercury, especially the Caloris Basin, which appears to be the result of an empact on the opposite side of Mercury, where the shockwave travelled all of the way around the planet to concentrate the energy and melt the crust.

Mariner 10 image of Caloris Basin


See this image and click to see the high resolution image mosaic of Mercury taken while MESSENGER was still in solar orbit.

There’s lots more high resolution imagery to come from MESSENGER, and I’m sure a few more surprises and puzzles to come as well.

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4 Responses to MESSENGER: first picture from orbit

  1. Gary says:

    John, the comment link isn’t working on your latest post.

    • John A says:

      Thanks for telling me. I have no idea why comments do not work on that post. I’ll keep plugging away until I find the reason

  2. Gary says:

    More often than not in my programming experience, such oddities result from a very small error in the code. Good luck.

  3. John A says:

    Commenting on that post has been enabled.

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