MESSENGER—which flew close to Mercury on October 6th—has sent back some amazing photos from the innermost planet. MESSENGER was launched in August 2004 and will make a total of three passes by Mercury before settling into orbit in 2011. The photo above (click on the photo for an enlargement) was taken about 17,000 miles away. Nine minutes earlier, it took this photo when it was about 1,100 miles above the surface. It looks like a photo of the Moon’s surface!
More information about MESSENGER and its mission is here.