Solar System Chatter

The Ups and Downs of Mercury

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Mercury orbiter MESSENGER may have ended its mission last year, but scientists are still sorting through the reams of data it collected—more than 10 terabytes of data and 300,000 images—over its extended four-year mission. The latest result is a global digital elevation map of the planet, which you can see an animation of here (higher elevations are brown, yellow, and red; lower elevations are in blue and purple). The highest point on Mercury is about 14,700 feet above average elevation, about as tall as Mount Bear in Alaska. The MESSENGER team also released a new image of Mercury’s north pole (right) that shows great detail about the planet’s past volcanic activity.

Heather Goss is the Departments Editor at Air & Space.

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