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A Mercury Christmas Carol
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A Mercury Christmas Carol

January 2, 2013
Release Date: December 25, 2012 Topics: Global Views, HD Resolution Images, Limb Images, WAC Date acquired: October 23, 2012 Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 259459446, 259459541 Image ID: 2817577, 2817578 Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers) Center Latitude: -54.17° Center Longitude: 148.6° E Resolution: 1400 meters/pixel Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles) (to the music of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) Mercury the Smallest Planet You know Jupiter, and Neptune, and Saturn, and Uranus, Earth, and Mars, and of course also Venus. But do you recall The smallest planet of all? Mercury, the smallest planet, Is so very near the Sun. And if you could go there The temperature might be 801 (degrees Fahrenheit!). All of the other planets Used to get a lot more press. Mercury, the smallest planet, Was talked about so much less. Then one jolly Saint Patrick's Day, MESSENGER came to stay. "Mercury with your mystery, Won't you share your history?" Then how the exploration started, With so much discovery! Mercury, the smallest planet, How fascinating you've come to be! Happy Holidays from the MESSENGER team! This image is a mosaic of two images that were acquired as part of MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere. 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. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington