Mosaic Postcards from Mercury
Mosaic Map   Mosaic Puzzle

Mosaic Map

To learn about the unique features on Mercury's surface and unravel its history, the MESSENGER Science Team has pieced together many high resolution images of the planet to form a "mosaic" (check out this cool example!). With the MESSENGER mosaic postcards project you can mimic that scientific process! With this interactive map you can click on the "mosaic puzzle pieces" to explore some of Mercury's fascinating surface features, and choose a button above the planet to see it centered on that longitude. To learn how to print and assemble your own mosaic "puzzle" of Mercury and find other printables, go to the Mosaic Puzzle.

Mosaic Puzzle

In order to capture the spectacular high-resolution views of Mercury, MESSENGER's Narrow Angle Camera of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) took many images of small areas of the planet's surface. Neighboring images overlapped by about 10% to ensure complete coverage of the planet without any gaps. These individual images were then assembled puzzle-style into a mosaic view of Mercury (check out this cool example!). With the mosaic postcards you can mimic this scientific process. Here you will find all of the materials necessary to create your own mosaic "puzzle" of Mercury. You'll need a blank grid, which is the foundation for your puzzle. Then, you can piece together an image of Mercury by placing the mosaic postcards onto the blank grid in puzzle fashion. You can supplement your puzzle with a few "special feature postcards," each providing more in-depth information about a unique feature on Mercury.

Blank Grid for MPC project

Blank Grid with Planet Limb

In astronomy, the word limb comes from the latin word limbus which means border. The planetary limb is the apparent edge of the planet within the grid. The blank grid is the foundation for your Mosaic Puzzle. Follow these Blank Grid Instructions to print or project your grid according to the options below.

BLANK GRID FIT TO PAGE: This option is ideal if you want to project your grid onto a wall, screen, or a large piece of paper (option: you can then trace the grid outlines). You may project the image directly from your computer or you can print it onto a transparency sheet and use an overhead projector. Adjust the projected image so that the grid measures about 42.5 inches (108 cm) across.

BLANK GRID DIVIDED INTO 20 PAGES: You can print this as a set of 20 pages that can be taped together to create a full size blank grid. IMPORTANT! When printing, be sure to change the "page scaling" option to "none" (rather than "shrink to printable area"). This option is usually found in the "Page Handling" area of the print dialogue box (or similar). See the Blank Grid Instructions for more details about printing and assembling your blank grid.

Mosaic Postcard Puzzle

Mosaic Postcard Puzzle Pieces

These mosaic postcards can be printed and placed on a blank grid to assemble an image of Mercury in a process similar to that used by planetary scientists from MESSENGER and other missions. Be sure to choose "Landscape" format when printing the mosaic postcards, and trim the white region around each card so they fit neatly on the blank grid. Choose from the following options:

MOSAIC POSTCARDS WITH LABELS [150°E view][330°E view]: With coordinate labels on these mosaic postcards, assembling the puzzle is quick and easy! Use these labeled cards for an introduction to the mosaic process and a refresher on coordinate systems.

MOSAIC POSTCARDS WITHOUT LABELS [150°E view][330°E view]: It is much more of a challenge to assemble a mosaic puzzle of Mercury without the help of coordinate labels! When you are printing these cards you might want to draw an "up" arrow or something on the back of each card to help you orient them properly, because if they get turned around you likely won't know which way is up! Try filling in the perimeter of the puzzle first. If you have them properly oriented, the limb cards should be easy to place. Then line up features on the edges of the cards to fill in the rest. When in doubt, look at the corresponding view in the Mosaic Map and see if you can use some of the more prominent features on Mercury's surface to help you place the mosaic postcards in the correct grid space. Good luck!

SPECIAL FEATURE POSTCARDS [English][En Español]: Learn a bit more about some of the unique features on Mercury with these cards. Can you find the special features represented in these cards on your Mosaic Puzzle of Mercury?

BLANK SPECIAL FEATURE POSTCARD [download .pdf]: Create your own Special Features Postcards using this template. Use the Featured Image Database to research the various features on Mercury and find spectacular images to complete your postcard.