Incredible pictures show best views of Mercury's scorched surface and ice-filled craters




A heat map of Mercury's surface
In this heat map red represents the areas of Mercury's surface where temperatures are up to 126C





Excerpt from express.co.uk


The detailed shots were taken by Nasa's Mercury Messenger spacecraft which is orbiting close to the planet and will crash into it once it runs out of fuel.

The spacecraft will hit into Mercury's surface on April 30 after almost four years exploring the planet closest to the Sun.

The images were revealed at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Texas.

Dr Nancy Chabot, the instrument scientist for Messenger's Mercury Dual Imaging System, said: "We're seeing into these craters that don't see the Sun, at higher resolution than was ever possible before."

One shot taken by Messenger shows deep craters on the face of Mercury.

The planet's lack of atmosphere means any space debris that hits the planet leaves large craters.

The Fuller crater on MercuryNASA
The 16mile-wide Fuller crater is among those seen in much more detail on Mercury

We're seeing into these craters that don't see the Sun, at higher resolution than was ever possible before
Dr Nancy Chabot
These are so deep that sunlight does not penetrate all the way down.

Researchers have suggested that would allow ice carried by asteroids to remain there without melting.

While another image taken from Mercury's north polar region shows a heat map of the surface where red represents temperatures up to 126C.

In the shot the vast majority of the planet's surface is red which shows its scorchingly hot surface temperatures.

Sean Solomon, a principal investigator for the mission, added: "We’re able to see at close range portions of the planet we haven’t seen in such detail before."