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Mercury: The Swift Planet Up Close and In Color

You are looking at the first color image of Mercury from orbit. It was taken by NASA's Mercury Messenger spacecraft, which is on a mission to "unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet."

You are looking at the first color image of Mercury from orbit.

Why is this significant?

NASA’s Mercury Messenger spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury on March 17, becoming the first spacecraft to ever do so. While orbiting Mercury, Messenger’s instruments have undertaken the first complete reconnaissance of the planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment. Today NASA released thousands of orbital images from the Mercury Dual Imaging System. According to NASA, over the course of Messenger’s one-year primary mission, the spacecraft’s scientific instruments will “unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet.”

To find out more about this mission, visit the Why Mercury section of NASA’s website.  

Check out these related ideas on Big Think:

Peter Diamandis on the price improvement curve of space travel.  

Esther Dyson: Will We Colonize Outer Space?

Astronaut Leroy Chiao describes the lack of collaboration in space between the U.S. and China. 

Jill Tarter describes the search for life in space


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