Watch Mercury Spin on its Axis [hd video]
This movie shows Mercury's globe as it rotates. A global color map of Mercury's surface has been created by mosaicking thousands of sets of images obtained by the MESSENGER Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The colors shown here are related to real variations in the spectral reflectance across the planet. This view captures both compositional differences and differences in how long materials have been exposed at Mercury's surface. Young crater rays, arrayed radially around fresh impact craters, appear light blue or white. Medium- and dark-blue areas are a geologic unit of Mercury's crust known as the "low-reflectance material", thought to be rich in a dark, opaque mineral. Tan areas are plains formed by eruption of highly fluid lavas. The color base map shown here consists of MDIS images taken through eight different color filters. It is part of a global color map that covers more than 99% of Mercury's surface with an average resolution of about 1 kilometer per pixel.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington