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This movie shows the locations at which energetic electrons were detected by MESSENGER between March 24 and June 3, 2011. In the coordinate system used (known as the Mercury solar orbital, or MSO, coordinates), the Sun is always in a fixed direction (here +X-axis). The events are well distributed in local time, but most are seen when the spacecraft is in the northern hemisphere. MESSENGER's X-ray Spectrometer (XRS) responds to electrons initially with lower energies but in a manner analogous to the GRS.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing.
Date Presented: June 16, 2011, at a NASA press conference
Instrument: Gamma-ray Spectrometer (GRS) and the X-ray Spectrometer (XRS)
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.