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Mercury's Weird Terrain

Emily Lakdawalla • April 19, 2011

When Mariner 10 flew past Mercury, it caught an immense impact basin lying half in and half out of sunlight, which they named Caloris. Even with only half the basin visible, scientists knew it was one of the largest in the solar system. Geologists had to wait more than 25 years to see the rest of Caloris, and when they did it turned out to be even bigger than they had thought. But the fact that Caloris was only half in sunlight was fortuitous in one sense, because it meant that the spot on Mercury that was exactly opposite the area of the Caloris impact was also partially in sunlight. That spot looks weird.

MESSENGER delivers its first image from Mercury

Emily Lakdawalla • March 29, 2011

This is MESSENGER's very first photo from Mercury orbit, a wide-angle view that reaches right to Mercury's south pole, exposing a very tiny sliver of territory not previously seen by spacecraft.

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