The year 2009 has been a memorable and successful one for the MESSENGER mission. In September, MESSENGER completed its third and final flyby of Mercury, putting it on path to become the first spacecraft ever to orbit the Solar System's innermost planet in 2011. Until then, MESSENGER's three Mercury flybys have provided a wealth of new data, and Science Team members continue to examine these data sets and prepare for orbital operations. Though there is much to anticipate in MESSENGER's future, 12 image highlights from the last year provide a timely retrospective look back at 2009:
° January: Shadows Showcase a Steep Scarp
° February: A Rough-and-tumble World
° March: Low-angle Impacts: A Look at Qi Baishi and Hovnatanian
° April: MESSENGER Team Presents Latest Science Results
° May: Overlaying Color onto Praxiteles Crater
° June: Colors Reveal What Lies Beneath
° July: Picture of a Pit-Floor Crater
° August: Munkacsy's Inner Ring Painted Over
° September: MESSENGER Sees the Previously Unseen!
° October: Young and Wrinkled
° November: Evidence of Volcanic Activity on Mercury
° December: A Southern Horizon as Seen during Mercury Flyby 3
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.