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Messenger Sends First Full Fly-By Image of Mercury

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the most-strained-backformation-name-ever dept.

Space 55

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from Gizmodo: "NASA's Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging spacecraft) has flown by just 125 miles over the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest in the Solar System. This is the first time in history that the whole planet is going to be photographed in its entirety by an Earthling probe, with amazing resolution and ultra-crisp detail." The picture at the top of the linked story is fantastic, too.

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Did they (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320831)

Did they bring a thermometer?

Re:Did they (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320893)

Tom Tucker: Yes they did, and we go to Ollie Williams with the Black-U-Weather Mercury Forecast. Ollie?

Ollie Williams: It's hot!

Tom Tucker: Thank you, Ollie.

Re:Did they (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320911)

No, but they are such a cool, happening, and together frood that they do have a towel. Can they borrow your thermometer?

Earthling (1)

bjackson1 (953136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320917)

"by an Earthling probe". Interesting phrase to put in there. Unless I misundertand it, it is assuming that some other intelligent life has already probed (as it were) Mercury? I don't really see a point to put that in there, except to be a bit more sensationalist.

Re:Earthling (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320951)

Nah, they just put that in there so you don't confuse it with the Venusian probes, or the Martian probes. Or the probes from my across the street neighbors - I'm pretty sure there is something off about them.

Re:Earthling (2, Funny)

Digital Pizza (855175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322517)

Do they claim to be from France?

Re:Earthling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321269)

And aren't they a little off course to successfully probe Earthlings?

Re:Earthling (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25332443)

The Soviets conquered Mercury! So that's where they all went!

Re:Earthling (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25324947)

it is assuming that some other intelligent life has already probed (as it were) Mercury?

You don't watch the news very often do you? Missed the whole "Earth makes contact with ET" news? The biggest news of the millenium and you missed it? How are you ever going to explain that to your grandchildren...

Hm. (1)

Zelda Death (1228000) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320949)

Looks like a black-and-white picture of Coruscant.

Re:Hm. (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321005)

Nah, it's just been pixellated and made B&W to hide Dick Cheney's winter vacation lodge. It is, after all as hot as Hell there. Makes him feel at home.

Gizmodo?? WTF (5, Informative)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320979)

So what...we can't link to the projects website? we have to go off a gizmodo article?

Here's a link to the homepage for the messenger mission. http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/ [jhuapl.edu]

And here's a link for the flyby 2 page http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_flyby2.html [jhuapl.edu]

Re:Gizmodo?? WTF (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321785)

Gizmodo seems to be handling the load a lot better than jhuapl.edu

Booooringgggg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25320983)

Mercury is not funny. Dear NASA, please send more probes to Ur Anus instead. We can do so much more with those news.

RAEG (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321121)

>>the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest in the Solar System.

Anyone else rage?

Re:RAEG (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321285)

Someone having Pluto separation anxiety?

Re:RAEG (4, Funny)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321543)

Looks like the fact that the International Astronomical Union mickey-moused a minnie-planet is driving this user goofy.

Re:RAEG (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322009)

Well, he has a good idea. Let's remove the smallest planet from the list of planets. Ofcourse, if you try this the all but smallest planet will now be the smallest planet. That way we will remove all planets from the list of planets thus breaking the main power source of the IAU. They will be powerless to stop us and then we will add pluto to the list of planets of the new astronomical agency tapping the power of all the planets. Then we can increase the number of planets by including objects in the Kuiper Belt. These planets will also be tapped.

?????

Singularity

Re:RAEG (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25324785)

It's a Jovian plot. Soon Mercury will not be making the grade either, and slowly, one by one, the other planets will be biting the dust, until only one is left.

Say no to this slippery slope! Call your senator today and have them stop this nonsense!

Highly Reflective Craters (2, Insightful)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321135)

Something I noticed immediately in the picture, was that the craters are a lot more reflective than what I typically see on, for instance, the moon. Certainly a lot more reflective than the rest of Mercury's surface.

Anyone have any idea why?

Re:Highly Reflective Craters (1)

PeKbM0 (1372511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321227)

From what it looks like, only the craters to the right of the image are brighter, while the craters to the left look fairly typical. My guess is it's just to do with how the light has hit them, and they aren't intrinsically different from any other craters.

Re:Highly Reflective Craters (2, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321277)

The light angle is probably part of it. Another factor may be crater age. On the Moon, more recent craters (and ejecta debris) is lighter in color than the older stuff, this may also be true on Mercury.

Freshness... (4, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321411)

From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_(crater_on_Mercury) [wikipedia.org]

Kuiper is a moderate-size crater with a central peak cluster located at 11 S, 31.5 W on Mercury.
It is 60 km in diameter and was named after Gerard Kuiper.
Kuiper crater has the highest recorded albedo of any region on the planet's surface, suggesting that it is one of the youngest craters.

Re:Highly Reflective Craters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25327271)

Because they're full of Mercury.... duh.

soft or hard (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321257)

If you look at some of the images the creators have rough edges while others look really smooth. Almost like the planet was softer during some impacts and harder for others. Either way for the smallest planet, it sure has a lot of impacts on it. Makes me think how violent the solar system was in the past.

A humble question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321585)

What do they create, the creators you are talking about?

Re:A humble question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321919)

Hush, V-ger.

We, (humans), are bloody amazing. (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321851)

We, (humans), are bloody amazing. We can shoot something into space, with cameras, and transmitting equipment, so accurately that it skims over the surface of a planet millions of miles away in a few years time. I thought the same when I watched the Mars Lander land. And something like MRI scanners? It's just mindbogglingly amazing technology. We're simultaneously so amazing, and yet so obtuse.

Re:We, (humans), are bloody amazing. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322613)

We're simultaneously so amazing, and yet so obtuse.

I see you've been following the US election cycle closely.

Re:We, (humans), are bloody amazing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25323515)

Obviously still too stupid to send up a satellite with a fucking colour camera. I mean come on, what's with all of the black & white imagery and falsely post-coloured images. We want to see what it really looks like.

Re:We, (humans), are bloody amazing. (0, Redundant)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25328685)

We can [jhuapl.edu] , jackass. There's not always a point.

Grey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322201)

I thought Mercury was orange - is this camera capable of taking color photographs? The article does not say.

Re:Grey? (3, Informative)

sighted (851500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322399)

Yes, the probe can take color images. The colors on Mercury are quite muted, though. Here's an example [jhuapl.edu] .

Re:Grey? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322611)

Well of course the colours are muted, the picture you just showed is in black and white!

Re:Grey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322643)

Um, read the caption and look closely at the full-sized image.

Re:Grey? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25323429)

WTF... I must have gotten confused in my tabs the first time I checked the link because this is not the page I remember commenting about lol.

Could you imagine.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322239)

a road trip across the surface?

Are we there yet?

oh look another crater!

didn't we already pass that one?

Re:Could you imagine.. (1)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322403)

Actually, I think the conversation would go more like this:

"hissssssssssssss"

(That's the sound of your once molten hair evaporating)

Re:Could you imagine.. (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25335735)

I assume that the planet is so cratered because of no/minimal atmosphere?

I can't tell, exactly, from the photograph, but are there any mountain ranges on Mercury? The image makes it look, except for the craters, pretty uniform in the surface elevation?

Can anyone give us a sense of scale for those craters? I'm guessing that, to be as well defined as they appear from space, they must be something like 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile deep?

Colour images please (1, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322567)

And when the hell are we going to get coloured images of Mercury? I mean true RGB colours, not remapped colours. I know that Mercury's colours are probably not the most exciting thing ever, but damnit we have yet to see a single damn colour picture of that bloody planet and the Messenger guys are literally sitting on it.

That's my beef with this mission, all they're giving us is the few snapshots they can be bothered to give us, and that's it. And the best they can be bothered to do at updating the maps is this [jhuapl.edu] . It makes me mad. If they would just release their raw images like they did Cassini AND Huygens you're have fully updated real colour maps of Mercury all over the place.

Re:Colour images please (1)

ZCARLW (1341077) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322873)

one word. Crayons.

Re:Colour images please (4, Informative)

Amigori (177092) | more than 5 years ago | (#25323457)

Easy now. If you look at the details of the images, all of the pictures that have been release have been taken with the Narrow Angle Camera MDIS camera. Details here [jhuapl.edu] . The NAC takes black & white photos. In order to get color photos, the pictures need to be taken with the Wide Angle Camera.

IANARS, but I would think they are waiting until they are in orbit before they deploy the WAC, probably due to power requirements. I could be wrong though.

Re:Colour images please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25323819)

Power requirements. Yes. If only there were some nearby source of power the craft might be able to tap into, say, using some sort of "panel" with which to collect it.

Re:Colour images please (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25331365)

Oh, my bad, I seemed to remember that both shared the same filters. The WAC was turned on during the first flyby though, allowing to make this false colour mosaic [jhuapl.edu] , which means they're still sitting on a real colour picture of the planet.

Re:Colour images please (1)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25327553)

Here you go. [jhuapl.edu]

Re:Colour images please (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25331277)

If you would take the pain to read the fucking caption that came with the picture you would know that the colour channels in that picture are "remapped", qualifying as a "false colour" picture. That doesn't tell you what colour Mercury is.

Oblig (0)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25324071)

The first thing I thought when I saw the picture was "That's not a moon..." [imdb.com]

Re:Oblig (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25328709)

This has not been funny for a REALLY LONG TIME [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Oblig (1)

Dragon By Proxy (1063904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25333911)

xkcd [xkcd.com] to the rescue.

Young whippersnappers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25324939)

"...and the smallest in the Solar System"
      Not in my Solar System buddy... not in mine.

First Impression (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25327983)

My first impression was, "it looks a lot like the moon."

The smallest planet in the solar system... *sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25328815)

How many people, when reading this slashdot snippet, thought, "Wait a sec, Mercury isn't the smallest pla... oh... right." ? Guilty.

"Earthling probe?" (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338323)

"Earthling probe?" Are we officially Earthlings now?

I think I'd prefer Earthican probe, or maybe even Terran probe.

Full coverage photo survey of Mercury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25342345)

I hope someone assembles them... Where's my http://www.google.com/mercury?

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