Ryan Thomason

Spacegasms: First Shots of Mercury

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I’m a closet space nerd, I love looking at pictures and reading about developments on orbital satellites and whatnot. The current mission NASA has been performing on Mercury (First planet from the sun for you that failed science in elementary school) is just awesome.

Basically, what you are looking at is the cratered region of the planet’s south pole that have never been photographed before. This is just one of the 364 images that were taken before it was sent back to NASA. Through Thursday, it’s going to take some 1,185 images of Mercury.

All of this comes before Messenger even begins the official SCIENCE! phase of its mission. The year-long primary SCIENCE! phase begins April 4, and NASA’s plan calls for the spacecraft to take more than 75,000 images of Mercury.

Carrying seven science instruments and built to withstand the blistering temperatures near the sun, Messenger is tasked with performing the first complete reconnaissance of the planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history and atmosphere, according to NASA.

Messenger is programmed to get images of different areas of the planet, including its northern pole, where some scientists surmise there might be ice . That would be a major discovery on a planet that is so close to the sun that its surface is 11 times brighter than Earth’s.

I know someone else has to think this is cool, SCIENCE! geeks, unite!

Infodump: Messenger is the first spacecraft to return information about Mercury to Earth since the Mariner 10 mission more than 30 years ago. The space agency’s Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to reach Mercury and Venus. Mariner 10 flew by Mercury three times, returning images and data from the planet.

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