Astronomy Picture of the Day

Mercury's Horizon from MESSENGER

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#105354 by @ 22.01.2008 00:00 - nach oben -
Mercury's Horizon from MESSENGER

What would it look like to fly past Mercury?

Just such an adventure was experienced last week by the MESSENGER spacecraft during its
first flyby of the strange
moon-like world nearest the Sun.

Pictured above is the limb of
upon approach, from about 1 1/2
Earth diameters away.

Visible on the hot and barren planet are many
craters, many appeared to be more shallow than similarly sized craters on the Moon.

The comparatively high
gravity of
Mercury helps
tall structures like high crater walls.

was able to take over 1,000 images of Mercury which will be beamed back to
Earth for
planetary geologists
to study.

The robotic MESSENGER spacecraft is
scheduled to fly past Mercury twice more before firing its thrusters
to enter orbit in 2011.

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