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MESSENGER provides new insights about Mercury
Posted: Thu, Jan 31, 2008, 2:02 PM ET (1902 GMT)
MESSENGER image of The Spider feature on Mercury (JHUAPL) An initial analysis of images and other data returned by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft have already reshaped scientists' views about the planet Mercury, project scientists said Wednesday. MESSENGER collected over 1,200 images of the innermost planet, along with magnetospheric and other data, when it flew past the planet earlier this month. The images includes observations of regions of the planet not previously seen before. A month the surprises in the MESSENGER data are images of a feature called "The Spider" which consists of over 100 troughs extending from a central region, where a crater that may be linked to the troughs' formation exists. The flyby is the first of three that MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) will perform through late 2009; the spacecraft will enter orbit around the planet for more intensive observations in 2011.
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