Just in time for Mercury’s transit of the sun—which you can see happening live right now!–NASA’s MESSENGER mission has released the first global topographic map of our solar system’s smallest planet.
The map reveals the variety of elevations across Mercury’s surface, and could help scientists better understand the planet’s geological history. Also, it’s pretty.
In particular, scientists are hoping to learn more about a huge and ancient volcanic area that’s large enough to cover 60 percent of the continental U.S. Since the area is at Mercury’s north pole, which doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, scientists haven’t gotten a good look at it until now.
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SOURCE: Popular Science, Sarah Fecht