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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ice on Mercury? NASA gets first close-up look at Mercury

MERCURY, the small, hot, innermost planet with an odd sense of time, is about to give up its secrets. A NASA spacecraft now circling Mercury is set to tackle some big mysteries of the scorched, tiny world – including whether or not water ice lurks in its shadowy craters.

In a historic moment for NASA, the MESSENGER spacecraft has delivered the first pictures ever taken from orbit around the planet Mercury. The Messenger spacecraft will capture some 1500 images from the planet Mercury in just three days, as the spacecraft gets down to work as the first probe to ever orbit the planet, NASA said Wednesday (30-Mar-2011).

The Messenger spacecraft, which entered orbit around Mercury on March 17, sent its first images of the hot planet's surface back to Earth early Tuesday. Interestingly MESSENGER stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging.

NASA released the first picture taken of Mercury's surface by the US space agency's orbiting Messenger craft. "Early this morning, at 5:20 am EDT (0920 GMT), Messenger captured this historic image of Mercury," NASA said.

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