Mercury


This video is a compilation of thousands of images taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft of Mercury. It’s rendered in exaggerated colors to highlight different surface features. Rays emanating from a northern impact that stretch across much of the planet, and about half-way through the video, the light colored Caloris Basin, a northern ancient impact feature that filled with lava, rotates into view. Recent analysis of MESSENGER data indicates that Mercury has a solid inner core.\

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

Just Passing By


The MESSENGER spacecraft ran out of maneuvering fuel some time ago, and on 30 April, it crashed into Mercury. It had been orbiting the planet for several years.

During it’s trip to Mercury, MESSENGER performed several gravity assist maneuvers, tacking on Earth, Venus, and, finally, Mercury before entering orbit around Mercury. It took these pictures during its flyby of Earth in 2005.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFDjAfwmWKM]

Video Credit: NASA

This Isn’t the Moon


It’s Mercury. The MESSENGER spacecraft captured images used to make this video during a flyover of the planet’s north pole on 8 June, 2014. The images were taken once per second while the spacecraft was at altitudes ranging from 115 to 165 km, traveling at a speed of 3.7 km/s relative to the surface. The frame rate has been sped up by a factor of seven for ease of viewing. The images have resolutions ranging from 21 to 45 m/pixel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSOv0-iWWwQ]

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

BTW, MESSENGER was launched ten years ago today.

A Day on Mercury


This animation shows wide-angle camera images of Mercury’™s south polar region taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft over one complete Mercury solar day (176 Earth days). This dataset enabled the illumination conditions at Mercury’™s south polar region to be quantified, producing the map seen at the end of the movie and provided as a separate image. The map is colored on the basis of the percentage of time that a given area is sunlit; areas appearing black in the map are regions of permanent shadow. The large crater near Mercury’s south pole, Chao Meng-Fu, has a diameter of 180 km.

[youtube http://youtu.be/Dozrf_S3v8E]

Video Credit: NASA

Look on the Sunny Side


sunny_sideThis view of Mercury’s horizon was taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around the planet. It was acquired looking from the shadows toward the sunlit side of the planet.A 120-km impact crater stands out near the center. The crater has several chains of secondary craters which gouge linear tracks radially away from it. While this crater does not appear to be of recent origin (its rays have faded), its secondary crater chains are more prominent than most similar craters.

Once per week, MESSENGER captures images of Mercury’s limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury’s shape and complement measurements of topography made by the spacecraft’s laser altimeter of Mercury’s northern hemisphere.

Image Credit: NASA

Leaving Home


What it would look like to leave the Earth? The MESSENGER spacecraft took the images that make up this time-lapse video while it was on its way toward the planet Mercury. Earth is seen rotating as it recedes into the distance.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFDjAfwmWKM]

Image Credit: NASA

An Elliptical Crater


ellipticalcraterMost craters are more or less circular. This is Hovnatanian crater on Mercury, named for Armenian painter Hakop Hovnatanian. The crater’s elliptical shape and the bright rays’ butterfly pattern indicate the whatever hit the planet causing the crater came in at a very shallow angle. The brightness of the rays indicates that they are relatively young features on Mercury’s surface.

This image was acquired by the MESSENGER spacecraft, the first to orbit Mercury. MESSENGER has acquired over 150,000 images and other extensive data sets, and should continue orbital operations until early 2015.

Image Credit: NASA

UPDATE—Cabin Boy Bill Schmalfeldt likes this picture. He tweets:

RadioWMS ‏I don’t know about you, but I enjoy these closeup pictures of Hoge’s complexion.
3:26 PM – 3 Aug 13 GMT

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

Mercury’s Minerals


messenger_false_colorThis false color view of Mercury was put together using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER‘s primary mission. The colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye. Instead, the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the minerals on Mercury’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA

A Solar Day on Mercury


mercury_day_oneAfter its first Mercury solar day (176 Earth days) in orbit around the planet closest to the Sun, MESSENGER has nearly completed two of its main global imaging campaigns: a monochrome map at 250 m/pixel and an eight-color, 1 km/pixel color map. There are a few small gaps which will be filled in during the next solar day. The MESSENGER maps provide uniform lighting conditions ideal for assessing Mercury’s surface features as well as the color and compositional variations across the planet. The views seen here were assembled from thousands of individual images. The color image was taken through the wide-angle camera filters at 1000, 750, and 430 nm wavelengths displayed in red, green, and blue, respectively.

Image Credit: NASA

A Solar System Family Portrait


Earlier I posted a picture of the Earth taken by Voyager1 looking back toward home. That image is the most popular picture that I’ve posted here on Hogewash! The picture above was assembled from images taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft now surveying Mercury while it was the craft was in orbit around the Sun en route to Mercury.

If you looked out from the center of the Solar System, this is the sort of view you would see. The planets all appear as points of light, with the closest and largest planets appearing the brightest. They all orbit in the same direction and are more or less confined to the same great circle around the sky—the ecliptic plane. You will have to click on the image to embiggen it. As you zoom in and scroll around the larger image, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible. The positions of Uranus and Neptune are labeled, but they are too faint to make out. Pluto, which has recently been demoted to dwarf planet status, is much too faint to see. Earth’s Moon is visible, however. So are the Galilean moons of Jupiter.

Image Credit: NASA

This Is Not the Moon


After its first Mercury solar day (176 Earth days) in orbit, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has nearly completed two of its main global imaging campaigns: a monochrome map at 250 m/pixel and an eight-color, 1-km/pixel color map. Apart from small gaps, which will be filled in during the next solar day, these global maps now provide uniform lighting conditions ideal for assessing the form of Mercury’s surface features as well as the color and compositional variations across the planet. The orthographic views seen here, centered at 75° E longitude, are each mosaics of thousands of individual images. At right, images taken through the wide-angle camera filters at 1000, 750, and 430 nm wavelength are displayed in red, green, and blue, respectively.  Image Credit: NASA