The First Pictures Of The Solar System’s Most Hellish Landscape

NASA’s Messenger probe gives us our first in-orbit pictures of Mercury.

The picture above is history: it’s the first image of Mercury obtained from that planet’s orbit, meaning it’s the best look we’ve ever gotten at the planet that’s closest to the Sun. The picture comes courtesy of the Messenger probe, which will hopefully be unlocking some of Mercury’s baffling secrets.

That’s right, secrets. See, scientists have found some sort of radar-reflecting surface at Mercury’s poles, which would indicate ice. On a planet whose surface temperature rises to 800 degrees F (although it does drop to a brisk 300 degrees F at night), the presence of ice is intriguing. Also intriguing: a high amount of water related ions in Mercury’s exosphere. The planet can’t quite maintain an atmosphere, but it has a loose semi-atmosphere going on, and Messenger previously found lots of water vapor in it.

As always, I assume all of this means Mercury is an alien base.