First Mercury flyby images released
Posted: Wed, Jan 16, 2008, 8:33 AM ET (1333 GMT)
MESSENGER project scientists released late Tuesday the first images taken by the spacecraft as it flew past the planet Mercury on Monday. The images, transmitted back to Earth earlier Tuesday, show regions of the planet not previously observed before. The newly-observed regions are similar in appearance to other portions of the planet, with signs of heavy cratering. MESSENGER also observed a previously-unseen portion of the Caloris Basin, and spotted unusual dark-rimmed craters within the basin. More data, including color images, will be returned by the spacecraft in the coming days as the spacecraft moves away from Mercury. The flyby Monday was the first of three by MESSENGER through late 2009 before the spacecraft goes into orbit around Mercury in 2011.
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