Fly Across Mercury with MESSENGER!

Article written: 8 Nov , 2013
Updated: 30 Dec , 2015

Take a ride on the Mercury express and see what MESSENGER sees in these two new videos! Each made from over 280 Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) images taken at intervals of four seconds, the videos give us a first-class seat on a flight over some of the rugged, sun-scorched surfaces on Mercury’s southern hemisphere.

Check out the second video below:

Even though the original high-resolution images were captured four seconds apart — the fastest that MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) is capable of taking — these videos have been sped up to a rate of 15 images per second.

The views in each video are around 90-110 miles (144-178 km) across. The large crater visible in the beginning of the second video is the 118-mile (191-km) -wide Schubert basin.

In related news, there are new maps of Mercury available on the USGS website! Thanks to MESSENGER we now have the entirety — yes, 100% — of the first rock from the Sun imaged and mapped. You can peruse them at your leisure here.

MESSENGER launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 3, 2004. It established orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011, the first manmade spacecraft ever to do so.

These images were acquired as part of the NAC ride-along imaging campaign. When data volume is available and MDIS is not acquiring images for its other campaigns, high-resolution NAC images are obtained of the surface. These images are designed not to interfere with other instrument observations but take full advantage of periods during the mission when extra data volume is available.

Video credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

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