This figure shows a comparison of Mariner 10 (left) and MESSENGER (right) images of the Tolstoj impact basin, approximately 350 km in diameter. The level of detail visible in the MESSENGER mosaic (~220 m/pixel) is much greater than that in the Mariner 10 mosaic (~1 km/pixel). MESSENGER will image more than 90% of Mercurys surface at an average resolution of 250 m/pixel or better, a feat that could never have been accomplished by Mariner 10. MESSENGER is also taking higher-resolution targeted images at resolutions of 10-25 m/pixel!
Date Presented: June 7, 2011, in a MESSENGER Science Highlight article.
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury. The mission is currently in its commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. In the course of the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation will unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the science questions that the MESSENGER mission has set out to answer.
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.