Taking Mercury for a Spin

All the surface of planet Mercury has now been mapped. Detailed observations of the planet have been being made since the MESSENGER spacecraft first flew by Mercury in 2008 and entered orbit in 2011. Previously, the Mariner 10 flybys in the 1970s photographed only about half of the planet which is too far away for Earth-based telescopes to see any significant detail. This video was put together using thousands of images of Mercury. Exaggerated color enhancement provides better contrast of different surface features. A couple of interesting features to watch for as the planet rotates are sets of rays emanating from impact sites that stretch across much of the planet and the light-colored Caloris Basin, a ancient impact feature that filled with lava in the northern hemisphere.

Video Credit: NASA

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