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Mercury’s stunning landscape mapped

New topography reveals sharp details of planet’s craters, mountains, more

By
5:30am, May 10, 2016

PICTURE PERFECT  Impact craters puncture northern volcanic plains on Mercury in this image from the MESSENGER spacecraft. Colors are enhanced to show differences in the composition of the rocks.

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Mercury has never looked better. Volcanic plains, craters, mountains and valleys are showcased in the first complete topographic map of the innermost planet, released May 6.

Stitched together from over 100,000 images taken by NASA’s now-defunct MESSENGER spacecraft, the global catalog of landscapes provide data that researchers can use to better understand the history and inner workings of the scorched world. Researchers also used X-ray data to map changes in chemical composition from place to place.

Mercury’s highest point, in ancient terrain just south of the equator, rises 4.48 kilometers above the planet’s average elevation, the data reveal. That’s about half of Mount Everest’s height above

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