We can’t just talk about Mercury. Sometimes you’ve just got to see it. Before NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, there weren’t a lot of Mercury pictures to choose from. But now the floodgates are open, MESSENGER is sending back more pics of Mercury with each flyby. So here are some of the best photos of Mercury taken so far. I also recommend you to read these amazing books for more information about the planet Mercury.
This first image of Mercury was actually taken by NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft, while the others were seen by MESSENGER. As you can see, the new images are so much better than the older ones.
This is one of the first close-up images of Mercury captured by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft just before its January 14th, 2008 flyby. It’s a full color image of Mercury, captured by the spacecraft’s Wide Angle Camera (WAC) filters in the infrared, far red, and violet wavelengths (red, green, and blue filters for this image.)
This image of Mercury was captured when the spacecraft was much closer to the planet. The prominent feature is crater Matisse, named after the French artist Henri Matisse. This same crater was imaged by Mariner 10, so this gives scientists a chance to see the difference.
Here’s an image of Mercury’s north pole, captured by MESSENGER during its January 14, 2008 flyby. It’s interesting to note that the planet’s southern regions are much more heavily cratered than its northern regions, which are relatively smooth in comparison. If you read the interesting facts about Mercury, you would know that there could be craters at the planet’s north pole that harbor deposits of ice.
This is a side of Mercury that had never been seen by spacecraft until NASA’s MESSENGER arrived to photograph it on January 14, 2008. Until now, astronomers had only made ground observations of this side of the planet. These images will help astronomers tune their methods and let them compare their ground observations to the close up images captured by spacecraft.