…And to your left, Mercury
06 May 2008
CCD image sensors in NASA’s Messenger spacecraft capture rare images of Mercury.
The Messenger was designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and launched in August 2004 to conduct the first orbital study of the planet. Previously, only the Mariner 10 mission, in 1975, had visited. Now, following this first of three flybys, we have access to over 1,200 images, including some new images of Mercury’s surface.
Imaging sensors supplied by e2v captured the images of the mysterious planet which remains the least explored as well as the smallest and densest in our solar system.
The component company supplied charge-coupled device image sensors for Messenger’s MDIS (Mercury Dual Imaging System). This is made up of a multi-spectral, wide-angle camera and a monochrome, narrow-angle camera. The two cameras mapped the planet surface’s landforms and variations in colour, monochrome and stereo. A 1024 x 1024 pixel frame transfer sensor allows up to 30 images per second and has anti-blooming for clarity of images.
The second and third flybys will be in October this year and September next year and then the spacecraft will enter Mercury’s orbit in March 2011.
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