On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER made history by becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury. Eleven days later, the spacecraft captured the first image ever obtained from Mercury orbit, shown here on the left.
Originally planned as a one-year orbital mission, the MESSENGER spacecraft orbited Mercury for more than four years, accomplishing technological firsts and making new scientific discoveries about the origin and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Check out the Top 10 Science Results.
Dates acquired: March 29, 2011; April 30, 2015
Image IDs: 65056, 8422953
Instrument: Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Left Image Center Latitude: -53.3°
Left Image Center Longitude: 13.0° E
Left Image Resolution: 2.7 kilometers/pixel
Left Image Scale: The rayed crater Debussy has a diameter of 80 kilometers (50 miles)
Right Image Center Latitude: 72.0°
Right Image Center Longitude: 223.8° E
Right Image Resolution: 2.1 meters/pixel
Right Image Scale: This image is about 1 kilometers (0.6 miles) across
On April 30, 2015, MESSENGER again made history, becoming the first spacecraft to impact the planet. In total, MESSENGER acquired and returned to Earth more than 277,000 images from orbit about Mercury. The last of those images is shown here on the right.