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Earth wasn’t only photographed from Saturn, but from Mercury, too

An enhanced-colour view of Mercury, the first planet in our solar system.
An enhanced-colour view of Mercury, the first planet in our solar system. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

TORONTO – While Saturn may be getting all the attention for photographing Earth, Mercury was doing its own bit of photography on Friday.

NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Mercury, turned its own cameras toward Earth, capturing our planet and the moon in a photograph.

WATCH: NASA releases video of Mercury

MESSENGER took the photograph while searching for moons of Mercury. Because Mercury itself is so small, any moons that would be around the planet would be much smaller, so MESSENGER’s cameras had to overexpose the images. This is why Earth and the moon seem very large and bright in this image.

Earth, the brightest of the two, and the moon, as seen from Mercury.
Earth, the brightest of the two, and the moon, as seen from Mercury. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

MESSENGER was 98 million km from Earth when the photo was taken.

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For a larger image, which shows a computer simulation of what was facing the cameras on both Earth and the moon, click here.