They will see us waving from such great heights
“Come down now,” they’ll say.
But everything looks perfect from far away
“Come down now,” but we’ll stay. –The Postal Service
It’s taken over 30 years to get the second spacecraft launched and headed towards Mercury, but Messenger is there now, having performed three flybys and taken even better pictures than Mariner 10 had to offer.
You’ll notice that this world looks more like the Moon than any other planet we know of. It’s full of craters, for one.
It’s also loaded with very violent scars, such as those emanating from Spider Crater, shown here.
Additionally, there are some mysterious, high mountains, such as that black feature to the lower right of the image below.
And, I know it’s just my own personal preferences, but I always enjoy images of the edge of the planet; of the border between bright, reflected sunlight and the blackness of deep space.
Mercury is made out of the densest, heaviest elements of any planet in the Solar System; if it weren’t for the effect of gravity, Mercury would be even denser than the Earth. (We are #1, you know.)
Do you see us? At the lower left of the image above, we’re the big disk with the smaller disk next to it: our Moon! Let’s blow it up for you:
The Earth and Moon always look almost entirely “full” as seen from Mercury, and this picture is no exception. Messenger will enter into orbit, permanently, around Mercury on March 18th of next year, but a picture like this always makes me appreciate just how small, fragile, and lonely our world is against the backdrop of deep space.
So I hope you’re enjoying one of the most beautiful sights the Universe has to offer; it’s the least I can do to usher in the new month!