Images from Messenger spacecraft provide study of planet Mercury

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NASA's Messenger has become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The images of the planet were captured by cameras equipped with e2v CCD imaging sensors.

Launched in August 2004, Messenger is only the second spacecraft to visit Mercury (after the Mariner 10 mission made several passes of the planet in 1974-75). Learning about Mercury is crucial for scientists to understand more about the planets in our solar system and how they have formed and evolved.

Messenger's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) is comprised of a multispectral wide-angle camera and a monochrome narrow-angle camera. The cameras map the rugged landforms and spectral variations on Mercury's surface in monochrome, colour and stereo.

The instrument is equipped with e2v CCD TH7888A, a 1,024 x 1,024 pixel frame transfer sensor, allowing up to 30 images per second, with anti-blooming functionality and a possibility of 2 x 2 binning operation. These sensors have collected more than 1,200 images during each of Messenger's three flybys of the planet.