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Space NASA Science

Messenger Sends First Full Fly-By Image of Mercury 55

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from Gizmodo: "NASA's Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging spacecraft) has flown by just 125 miles over the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest in the Solar System. This is the first time in history that the whole planet is going to be photographed in its entirety by an Earthling probe, with amazing resolution and ultra-crisp detail." The picture at the top of the linked story is fantastic, too.
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Messenger Sends First Full Fly-By Image of Mercury

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  • Did they bring a thermometer?
  • "by an Earthling probe". Interesting phrase to put in there. Unless I misundertand it, it is assuming that some other intelligent life has already probed (as it were) Mercury? I don't really see a point to put that in there, except to be a bit more sensationalist.

    • Nah, they just put that in there so you don't confuse it with the Venusian probes, or the Martian probes. Or the probes from my across the street neighbors - I'm pretty sure there is something off about them.
    • it is assuming that some other intelligent life has already probed (as it were) Mercury?

      You don't watch the news very often do you? Missed the whole "Earth makes contact with ET" news? The biggest news of the millenium and you missed it? How are you ever going to explain that to your grandchildren...

  • Looks like a black-and-white picture of Coruscant.
    • Nah, it's just been pixellated and made B&W to hide Dick Cheney's winter vacation lodge. It is, after all as hot as Hell there. Makes him feel at home.
  • Gizmodo?? WTF (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Dill ( 218371 ) <.moc.aluhcaz. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:40PM (#25320979) Homepage
    So what...we can't link to the projects website? we have to go off a gizmodo article?

    Here's a link to the homepage for the messenger mission. http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/ [jhuapl.edu]

    And here's a link for the flyby 2 page http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_flyby2.html [jhuapl.edu]

  • RAEG (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    >>the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest in the Solar System.

    Anyone else rage?

    • Someone having Pluto separation anxiety?

      • Re:RAEG (Score:5, Funny)

        by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:26PM (#25321543) Homepage Journal

        Looks like the fact that the International Astronomical Union mickey-moused a minnie-planet is driving this user goofy.

      • Well, he has a good idea. Let's remove the smallest planet from the list of planets. Ofcourse, if you try this the all but smallest planet will now be the smallest planet. That way we will remove all planets from the list of planets thus breaking the main power source of the IAU. They will be powerless to stop us and then we will add pluto to the list of planets of the new astronomical agency tapping the power of all the planets. Then we can increase the number of planets by including objects in the Kuiper

    • It's a Jovian plot. Soon Mercury will not be making the grade either, and slowly, one by one, the other planets will be biting the dust, until only one is left.

      Say no to this slippery slope! Call your senator today and have them stop this nonsense!

  • by Sibko ( 1036168 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:54PM (#25321135)
    Something I noticed immediately in the picture, was that the craters are a lot more reflective than what I typically see on, for instance, the moon. Certainly a lot more reflective than the rest of Mercury's surface.

    Anyone have any idea why?
    • by PeKbM0 ( 1372511 )
      From what it looks like, only the craters to the right of the image are brighter, while the craters to the left look fairly typical. My guess is it's just to do with how the light has hit them, and they aren't intrinsically different from any other craters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AJWM ( 19027 )

        The light angle is probably part of it. Another factor may be crater age. On the Moon, more recent craters (and ejecta debris) is lighter in color than the older stuff, this may also be true on Mercury.

    • Freshness... (Score:5, Informative)

      by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:15PM (#25321411) Journal

      From Wikipedia:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_(crater_on_Mercury) [wikipedia.org]

      Kuiper is a moderate-size crater with a central peak cluster located at 11 S, 31.5 W on Mercury.
      It is 60 km in diameter and was named after Gerard Kuiper.
      Kuiper crater has the highest recorded albedo of any region on the planet's surface, suggesting that it is one of the youngest craters.

  • If you look at some of the images the creators have rough edges while others look really smooth. Almost like the planet was softer during some impacts and harder for others. Either way for the smallest planet, it sure has a lot of impacts on it. Makes me think how violent the solar system was in the past.

  • We, (humans), are bloody amazing. We can shoot something into space, with cameras, and transmitting equipment, so accurately that it skims over the surface of a planet millions of miles away in a few years time. I thought the same when I watched the Mars Lander land. And something like MRI scanners? It's just mindbogglingly amazing technology. We're simultaneously so amazing, and yet so obtuse.
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

    And when the hell are we going to get coloured images of Mercury? I mean true RGB colours, not remapped colours. I know that Mercury's colours are probably not the most exciting thing ever, but damnit we have yet to see a single damn colour picture of that bloody planet and the Messenger guys are literally sitting on it.

    That's my beef with this mission, all they're giving us is the few snapshots they can be bothered to give us, and that's it. And the best they can be bothered to do at updating the maps is t [jhuapl.edu]

    • by ZCARLW ( 1341077 )
      one word. Crayons.
    • by Amigori ( 177092 ) <eefranklin718NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @10:08PM (#25323457) Homepage
      Easy now. If you look at the details of the images, all of the pictures that have been release have been taken with the Narrow Angle Camera MDIS camera. Details here [jhuapl.edu]. The NAC takes black & white photos. In order to get color photos, the pictures need to be taken with the Wide Angle Camera.

      IANARS, but I would think they are waiting until they are in orbit before they deploy the WAC, probably due to power requirements. I could be wrong though.
      • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
        Oh, my bad, I seemed to remember that both shared the same filters. The WAC was turned on during the first flyby though, allowing to make this false colour mosaic [jhuapl.edu], which means they're still sitting on a real colour picture of the planet.
    • Here you go. [jhuapl.edu]
      • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
        If you would take the pain to read the fucking caption that came with the picture you would know that the colour channels in that picture are "remapped", qualifying as a "false colour" picture. That doesn't tell you what colour Mercury is.
  • The first thing I thought when I saw the picture was "That's not a moon..." [imdb.com]

  • My first impression was, "it looks a lot like the moon."
  • "Earthling probe?" Are we officially Earthlings now?

    I think I'd prefer Earthican probe, or maybe even Terran probe.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall