PIA16666: A Mercury Christmas Carol
Target Name: Mercury
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: MESSENGER
Spacecraft: MESSENGER
Instrument: MDIS - Wide Angle
Product Size: 1960 x 1020 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Johns Hopkins University/APL
Full-Res TIFF: PIA16666.tif (2.001 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA16666.jpg (221.4 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

(to the music of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

Mercury the Smallest Planet

You know Jupiter, and Neptune, and Saturn, and Uranus,
Earth, and Mars, and of course also Venus.
But do you recall
The smallest planet of all?

Mercury, the smallest planet,
Is so very near the Sun.
And if you could go there
The temperature might be 801 (degrees Fahrenheit!).

All of the other planets
Used to get a lot more press.
Mercury, the smallest planet,
Was talked about so much less.

Then one jolly Saint Patrick's Day,
MESSENGER came to stay.
"Mercury with your mystery,
Won't you share your history?"

Then how the exploration started,
With so much discovery!
Mercury, the smallest planet,
How fascinating you've come to be!

Happy Holidays from the MESSENGER team!

This image is a mosaic of two images that were acquired as part of MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.

Date acquired: October 23, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 259459446, 259459541
Image ID: 2817577, 2817578
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -54.17
Center Longitude: 148.6 E
Resolution: 1400 meters/pixel
Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)

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. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a year-long extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.

For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.

Image Credit:
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Image Addition Date:
2012-12-25