It was only three months ago that the first ever close-up images of Mercury from orbit were taken by the MESSENGER probe. Now, in commemoration of MESSENGER's hundredth orbit of the first planet, here's a look at Mercury's colorful side.
As those who saw MESSENGER's first image can probably attest, Mercury isn't exactly defined by its striking color scheme. But this image adds a little visual sparkle, as a NASA astronomer explains:
MESSENGER's cameras have recorded detailed pictures utilizing eight different colors across visible and near infrared light, exploring the surface composition and looking for clues to the history and evolution of the solar system's innermost planet. This sharp image combines three of the MESSENGER wide angle camera's colors, but in exaggerated fashion. Otherwise, to the unaided human eye, Mercury's surface colors would appear comparatively muted. The image is about 1,000 kilometers across and features as small as a single kilometer are discernible at the original resolution.