Earth Resumes Surveillance of Mercury

After a two-month hiatus, the Messenger spacecraft has resumed sending home images of the sun's closest companion.
Xiao Zhao crater (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Mars gets all the attention. Mars Mars Mars Mars. Then there's Jupiter with its storms and Saturn with its rings. Even Pluto gets all kinds of attention, and it's not even a planet.

But who's paying attention to old Mercury?

Actually, that would the Messenger spacecraft, which was the first to orbit the planet, and completed mapping it in early 2013.

For the last two months, Mercury has been on the other side of the sun, so the spacecraft wasn't sending any images of the planet back our way. 

As of this week, transmissions have resumed, and we're getting to see the surface of Mercury again. The backlog of surveillance imagery is now being sent back to Earth.

Above we have a (for Mercury) high-resolution image of the Xiao Zhao crater. For scale, the crater is 15 miles in diameter.

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