On August 3, 2004 the MESSENGER spacecraft blasted off into space from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, entering orbit around the innermost planet some six and a half years later, on March 18, 2011.
Over the course of the mission, the MESSENGER team has been posting Featured Images at regular intervals. The first image
was posted in August 2005 - and today we've hit 1,000 Featured Images!
This mosaic celebrates the incredible range of images, maps, and other scientific data shared by the MESSENGER team in more than eight years of web postings, but of course contains just a small percentage of the total collection of images now available online
. Although we can't list them all, see if you can spot some highlights like the MESSENGER stamp
, Mercury's dark and mysterious north pole
, the Caloris basin in full color
, lava channels
, Pantheon Fossae
, images of Earth
, and the Cookie Monster
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. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015 - and as long as it keeps working, we'll keep posting Featured Images!
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.