NASA / JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY / CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY / CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mercury. MESSENGER image of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. The bright crater just south of the center of the image is named Kuiper. The MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft was launched from Earth in August 2004. After a series of flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, to slow it down, the spacecraft will enter orbit around Mercury in March 2011. It will then start a year-long mission to map and study the surface. This image was obtained during MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury in October 2008.
Model release not required. Property release not required.