Thursday, January 17, 2008

Great Flyby but no Skinakas

While I've been offline, owing to interstate/transcontinental travel and laptop malfunction [ Note to self: Do not leave LCD display exposed to hot sun :-( ], MESSENGER has successfully completed its first Mercury flyby. A large part of the previously unseen face of Mercury has been imaged: from which it appears that the "Skinakas Basin" earthbound astronomers had thought they detected doesn't exist after all; and Caloris Planitia - the light area to the NE in the image - has a higher albedo than the surrounding plains, in contradistinction to the dark maria and light terrae of the Moon (see full results - as they appear, after download and processing - on the MESSENGER website; there is plenty of informed discussion of results at Unmanned's Mercury Flyby 1). Thus human knowledge of the universe advances...

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