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


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.