back to article Messenger delivers first Mercury orbital snap

NASA's Messenger has returned the first photograph taken by a spacecraft circling Mercury, a tad under two weeks after it went into orbit around the solar system's innermost planet. Messenger image of Mercury. Pic: NASA The agency explains* that the snap was taken at 09:20 GMT on 29 March, and over the next six hours, …


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  1. Winkypop Silver badge


    Who said it was boring?

    Flame: It's rather warm on Mercury, however not as hot as on Venus.

    1. Luther Blissett


      neither is as hot as in Paris.

      // umbrella, for Singing in the Rain

  2. Andy 97
    Thumb Up

    Amazing stuff

    You're likely to be able to run the whole thing off an Android phone these days.

    Still, you can see why NASA people tend to be pretty bright!

  3. Anonymous Coward
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    Having previously worked on and flown satellites for a number of years, I know how chunky space certified hardware can be. It's quite a feat to keep nearly a dozen scientific instruments under 50kg in weight. Hats off to the space boffins.

  4. CraigRoberts
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    Amazing stuff...

    ... I just wish the the lunatics on this planet (on all sides) would all hurry up and die out so that we can spend more resource on exploring the universe instead of blowing people up...

  5. Blitz

    Now lets go back to Venus

    This is truly amazing - but it would be even more so if we were to send a probe to the surface of venus that could last longer than 40 minutes. Appreciate the atmospheric pressures and temp on Venus makes this a challenge but surely it would be worth it?

    The Russian probe that was there in ('78?) lasted all of 20 some odd minutes before dying. I would think we could do better than this now.

    1. IglooDude

      It wasn't the atmosphere...

      It was Venusian snu-snu. They have a thing for alien probes. Twenty minutes was and is still quite respectable under the circumstances.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        There was a young women from Venus, who's head was shaped like a ......

      2. dssf

        Remember the STTNG Episode

        Data: There once was a woman from Venus, whose body was shaped like a—

        Picard: DATA! Ahna-tha tyme, puhr-haps!

        LaForge/Ryker/Crusher/Others on bridge watch laugh, knowingly... while Data fails to immediately realize the trouble or inappropriateness of his attempt at humour...

        (STTNG: The Naked Now)

    2. Stevie Silver badge


      "Appreciate the atmospheric pressures and temp on Venus makes this a challenge"

      Not to mention all the boiling hot concentrated sulphuric acid vapour.

      And all that radioactivity on the way there.

      And the hard vacuum. A bugger on moving parts, months in hard vacuum.

    3. IMVHO

      Venus is on acid

      Clouds of sulfuric acid, chlorine, and everyone's favorite, fluorine. That's all with a temperature that is hot enough to melt soft metals (about twice what a good BBQ can achieve).

      Women...though I do love them, I think I'm happy to be from Mars.

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: going back to Venus

      I'm not sure about "now" versus "then", since I can't think of too many advances that would help.

      The pressure isn't a problem, if you can deliver enough weight to the planet's surface. We know how to build strong things. The main problem is the temperature: 450-500 Celsius. Almost none of your instruments will work at that temperature and keeping them significantly cooler on a permanent basis is going to be Hard. Oh, and any solution also has to withstand chemical attack from the boiling hot sulphuric acid they have there instead of rain.

      Your best bet might be to evacuate the interior of a transparent (glass?) strong-box and magnetically levitate the instruments in the middle, but this obviously restricts the range of instruments that you can deploy. (No magnetometers, for example.)

  6. ian 22


    NASA still use GMT? Is this how they avoid making mistakes converting to/from UTC?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: GMT?

      They do not - they oscillate between Eastern and Pacific time according to their mood. It's a right pain in the backside having to continually convert to a time zone people actually understand.

    2. Pigeon

      Wasser difference?

      I thought there was 'Astronomical time', which is different from UCT in some miniscule way. I can't expect to remember, since my Nukes have been Fongled. Maybe there isn't any leap-second stuff.

    3. Jams


      Erm, correct me if I'm mistaken but doesn't GMT = UTC?

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        RE: Time

        >> Erm, correct me if I'm mistaken but doesn't GMT = UTC?

        Actually no, but very very close. Normally within a second of each other.

  7. Gordon Barret


    Wow - sure looks like a LOT of equipment, however being that close to the Sun would really help the solar cells! a bit of a problem cooling in the 'daytime' tho ...

  8. IMVHO

    It is nicely framed

    But in which frame of reference? "The snap was taken at 09:20 GMT", would that be from the perspective of Mercury, or Earth? Surely, there is a few minutes worth of travel at the speed of light between the two.

    Mine is the one with a smallish rock in the pocket.

    1. Steve Foster

      In this Context...

      GMT is Global Mercury Time, obviously.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      ""The snap was taken at 09:20 GMT", would that be from the perspective of Mercury, or Earth?"

      There is only one GMT in the entire Universe and it's where Greenwich and its meridian are.

  9. ShaggyDoggy


    It's just a load of craters.

    Presumably 23 of them are full of some sort of moondust.

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