SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Mercury Mystery, Eruption, More

 SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Mercury Mystery, Eruption, More
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September 29, 2009--Mercury's mysterious bright spot finally got a close-up, thanks to NASA'S MESSENGER probe, which flew within 142 miles (228 kilometers) of the sun's nearest planetary neighbor.

Close-up or no, scientists still don't know why the region appears spotlighted. But thanks to the highest-resolution images of the area so far, they now know that the halo holds an irregular depression, possibly the result of volcanic forces.

Last week's flyby was MESSENGER's third, and it's intended to put the probe on course to begin orbiting Mercury in 2011.
— Image courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
 
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