Below is the first image taken by the Wide Angle Camera aboard the Messenger spacecraft now flying by the planet Mercury at a distance of 17,000 miles from the surface. Features as small as six miles (10 km) were gathered by the Mercury Dual Imaging System through a filter sensitive to light near the red end of the visible light spectrum.

MESSENGER’s First Look at Mercury’s Previously Unseen Side

Image: NASA/APL

The hemisphere photographed appears heavily cratered and includes an image of the giant Caloris basin, formed by the impact of a large asteroid or possibly a comet. It is of relatively recent age and was only partially photographed by Mariner 10 some thirty years ago. More data and images should be assembled in the next several days.

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