|Images from the MESSENGER spacecraft showing the solar system from the inside|
HUNTSVILLE, AL - NASA has released a new series of photographs that it says shows what our solar system looks like from the inside-out. The 34 images were taken in November by the wide-angle camera of MESSENGER, a spacecraft heading toward Mercury.
"Obtaining this portrait was a terrific feat by the MESSENGER team," said MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "This snapshot of our neighborhood also reminds us that Earth is a member of a planetary family that was formed by common processes four and a half billion years ago. Our spacecraft is soon to orbit the innermost member of the family, one that holds many new answers to how Earth-like planets are assembled and evolve."
MESSENGER's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) captured the images on Nov. 3 and 16, 2010. In the mosaic, all of the planets are visible except for Uranus and Neptune, which - at distances of 3.0 and 4.4 billion kilometers - were too faint to detect.