February 20th, 2013
In this newly released high-definition 3D rotating map of Mercury, formulated using thousands of observations carried out by NASA’s Messenger probe, which has been in orbit around the innermost planet of our solar system for an entire year now, the surface of Mercury has been revealed in clarity never experience until now, bringing this dull, colorless, shriveled husk of a planet to light.
Indeed, this teaser image isn’t a true representation of Mercury, which lies some 35,980,000 miles (57,910,000 km) from our sun. As you catn see though, in all of the images released to the public to this very day , the planet is generally a brownish-grey color, similar to our moon, but well placed exaggerated featurs make obvious the highlighting the composition of the various rock that the compromise the bulk of Mecury’s compostion.
The areas that are orange signify the existence of volcanic planes, while the deep blue portions of the image are rich in some sort of opaque mineral we haven’t deciphered just yet. The light-blue streaks are crater rays that were created through impacts between Mercury and space rocks of differing sizes, compositions and mass. When these collisions occur, ground up rock becomes scattered about the surface, which can be identified using certain filters.
myscienceacademy.org has a video of the full map you can view here; http://myscienceacademy.org/2013/02/19/take-a-spin-around-mercury/
Furthermore, the team is anxious to present Messenger’s findings, which included an announcement a few months back concerning the existence of water-ice found at Mercury’s shadowed poles. As a teaser, they revealed the presence of volatile elements such as sulfur and potassium, both of which were originally thought impossible due to the proximity Mercury lies from the sun. No doubt that MESSENGER will relay some pretty incredible finds over the course of its primary mission.
Messenger Finds Water-ice on Mercury: http://tinyurl.com/watericeon-mercury-fqtq
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
February 20th, 2013