Happy New Year! (Finally!)
Shown here is the first MESSENGER image from 2012! Though this image was acquired on January 1, it wasn't downlinked from the spacecraft until this week. The spacecraft has two solid-state recorders, which enable data to be stored on the spacecraft, and the mission uses a system of priorities to determine which data are downlinked. Often images are sent back to Earth within a few days of being acquired but occasionally longer times between image acquisition and downlink occur.
Date acquired: January 18, 2012
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington