As MESSENGER approached Mercury for the mission's third and final flyby of the Solar System's innermost planet, the WAC acquired images through all 11 of its narrow-band color filters. The 1000, 700, and 430 nanometer filters were combined in red, green, and blue to create this color image, the last close-up color view that will be acquired until MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury in March of 2011. Only 6% of Mercury's surface in this image had not been viewed previously by spacecraft, and most of the measurements made by MESSENGER's other instruments during this flyby were made prior to closest approach. The observations from MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury nonetheless revealed fresh surprises. Check out the NASA Science Update Telecon held today for details about some of these new surprises.
Date Acquired: September 29, 2009
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC Filter: 9, 1, 6 (1000, 700, and 430 nanometers)
Resolution: 5 kilometers/pixel (3 miles/pixel)
Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.