It is always amazing to see more clearly the planets that share this solar system with our own. How they differ and the stories they tell of the formation of the planets, and what they can tell us about our own unique planet. For the first time, scientists can give us a detailed look at the entire surface of Mercury. As io9 states, "Over the past year, MESSENGER has taken over 80,000 images with plans to take 80,000 more. That's allowed us to assemble this complete visual representation of Mercury's surface, with each pixel representing about a square kilometer."
For the first time, the entire surface of planet Mercury has been mapped. Detailed observations of the innermost planet's surprising crust have been ongoing since the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft first passed Mercury in 2008 and began orbiting in 2011. Previously, much of the Mercury's surface was unknown as it is too far for Earth-bound telescopes to see clearly, while the Mariner 10 flybys in the 1970s observed only about half. The above video is a compilation of thousands of images of Mercury rendered in exaggerated colors to better contrast different surface features. Visible on the rotating world are rays emanating from a northern impact that stretch across much of the planet, while about half-way through the video the light colored Caloris Basin rotates into view, a northern ancient impact feature that filled with lava. MESSENGER has now successfully completed its primary and first extended missions.