The mercurial results of a $600 camera

A $600 camera in Boston has accomplished what the billion-dollar Hubble telescope in space has been unable to do: photograph the far side of the planet Mercury.

The neighboring planet has always harbored its secrets behind the nearly impenetrable glare of the sun, which would have damaged Hubble's sophisticated cameras had they been aimed at the planet. Previously, the 1974 NASA probe Mariner had detailed a mere 45 percent of the planet's topography.

Staff at the Boston Museum of Science figured out a solution to the problem in their spare time. A video camera affixed to a 12 inch telescope in the Museum's Gilliland Observatory took thousands of images per minute. Individual frames were then examined to discover pictures that weren't distorted by the Earth's atmosphere. These images were joined to form a composite of the planet.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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