Historic Photo of Mercury Captured by NASA’s MESSENGER Probe

After a seven year journey that involved being slingshotted around the planets in our solar system, NASA’s MESSENGER probe entered Mercury’s orbit on March 17th, 2011. Yesterday the probe beamed back the first photograph ever taken of the planet from orbit (seen above).

Early this morning, at 5:20 am EDT, MESSENGER captured this historic image of Mercury. This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the Solar System’s innermost planet. Over the subsequent six hours, MESSENGER acquired an additional 363 images before downlinking some of the data to Earth.[#]

Photography will be playing a big role in MESSENGER’s mission — NASA will be using it to shoot tens of thousands of photographs of the planet. You can follow its progress on this Flickr set, which includes a color version of the above photo.

(via PhotoWeeklyOnline)

Image credit: Photograph by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

  • Rob Carr

    You had me going there for a minute. “Mariner 10 captured the first Mercury photos.” But this is the first photo from >>orbit<<.

  • Joe Brandibas

    Yeah, he does need to take a little more care in his titles. It is still historic though, because we haven’t had a craft that has been able to orbit it before. We will be getting many more photographs of the planet itself, as there are already hundreds that have been taken, they are just waiting for them to transfer.

  • Michael Zhang

    Apologies. Removed the “first” from the title to make it a little clearer :)

  • Seshan

    Looks like the Moon. That was a waste. :P

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  • Jeff

    That was my first thought, too, it does look a lot like the moon.

  • Dean W Thompson

    To bad they photo shopped out all the the structures…

  • Dean W Thompson

    To bad they photo shopped out all the the structures…