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Published on May 6, 2016
Data from NASA’s MESSENGER mission have been used to create this animation of the first global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury, revealing in stunning detail the topography across the entire innermost planet and paving the way for scientists to fully characterize its geologic history. Mercury’s surface is colored according to the topography of the surface, with regions with higher elevations colored brown, yellow, and red, and regions with lower elevations shown in blue and purple. The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched on Aug. 3, 2004, and began orbiting Mercury on March 17, 2011. It spent four years capturing images and information about the planet closest to the sun in unprecedented detail.
Credits: NASA/U.S. Geological Survey/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory