March 29, 2011
Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA)
This figure shows altimetric profiles obtained on 29 March during the first two successive MESSENGER orbits on which the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instrument was operating. Elevation is indicated by both the vertical scale and the color coding. The profile for the second orbit has been offset by 3 km for clarity. The profiles cross a variety of terrains, including a number of impact craters.
On March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011, UTC), MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury
. The mission is currently in its commissioning phase, during which spacecraft and instrument performance are verified through a series of specially designed checkout activities. In the course of the one-year primary mission, the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
will unravel the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury?
section of this website to learn more about the science questions that the MESSENGER mission has set out to answer.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/MIT/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.