Mountains and valleys mapped NASA/U.S. Geological Survey/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
The innermost planet is ready for its close-up. The team behind NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury has released the first global topographic map of the small, cratered world – just in time for its biggest show of the decade.
MESSENGER orbited Mercury from 2011 until 2015, and took more than 10 terabytes of data, including 300,000 images and millions of spectra. A laser altimeter measured the heights of hills and depths of craters, but because the spacecraft had a highly eccentric orbit, this was not possible for the southern hemisphere.
Now, the team have combined more than 100,000 images to create a model of the whole planet’s topography. It includes the highest point – 4.48 kilometres above average elevation, located south of the equator in…
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