Out-of-this-world pictures - from Essex

NASA's Messenger spacecraft has captured images of Mercury during its first flyby of the planet using imaging sensors supplied by Chelmsford-based e2v.

NASA's Messenger spacecraft has captured images of Mercury during its first flyby of the planet using imaging sensors supplied by Chelmsford-based e2v.

As only the second spacecraft to visit the planet after the Mariner 10 mission in 1975, many of the 1,200 images captured by the cameras on board show parts of the planet's surface never seen before.

e2v supplied the Charge Coupled Device (CCD) image sensors used in Messenger's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), which comprises a multispectral wide-angle camera and a monochrome narrow-angle camera.

The cameras mapped the rugged landforms and spectral variations on Mercury's surface in monochrome, colour and stereo.


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Launched in August 2004, Messenger - designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, USA - is due to make two further flybys of Mercury in October 2008 and September 2009 before commencing the first orbital study of the planet in March 2011.

Brian McAllister, aerospace general manager at e2v, said “e2v has a long heritage in space imaging and this NASA mission is a excellent example of how e2v is working with our customers to accelerate discovery, in this case to generate a greater understanding of the planet Mercury.”

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