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Mercury detailed image

NASA's Messenger spacecraft has captured a new view of the planet Mercury. During a flyby on Monday, cameras onboard snapped images of the cratered surface that had not been previously observed.

In the 1970s, NASA's Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times and made observations, but the same hemisphere was always facing the sun.

The images from Monday's flyby covered about half of the unexplored section of the planet. The image at left was collected by the Wide Angle Camera from a distance of about 17,000 miles. The data collected so far indicate that the rest of Mercury is heavily cratered, similar to the areas studied by Mariner 10. Messenger is expected map the planet in full after it slips into orbit in March 2011.

Mercury image

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