Home | Site Map | What's New | Image Index | Copyright | Posters | ScienceViews | Science Fiction Timelines |

PHOTO INDEX OF
PRIMARY TARGETS
ASTEROIDS
COMETS
EARTH
JUPITER
KUIPER BELT
MARS
MERCURY
METEORITES
NEPTUNE
OORT CLOUD
PLUTO
SATURN
SOLAR SYSTEM
SPACE
SUN
URANUS
VENUS
ORDER PRINTS

OTHER PHOTO INDEXES
ALL TARGETS
PHOTO CATEGORIES

SCIENCEVIEWS
AMERICAN INDIAN
AMPHIBIANS
BIRDS
BUGS
FINE ART
FOSSILS
THE ISLANDS
HISTORICAL PHOTOS
MAMMALS
OTHER
PARKS
PLANTS
RELIGIOUS
REPTILES
SCIENCEVIEWS PRINTS

Mercury's Complex Cratering History

Target Name:  Mercury
Spacecraft:  MESSENGER
Produced by:  NASA/JHUAPL
Copyright: Copyright Free
Date Released: 18 January 2008

Related Documents
Download Options

NameTypeWidth x HeightSize
VSS00076.jpgJPEG640 x 31171K
VSS00076.jpgJPEG1826 x 886656K
VSS00076.tifTIFF1826 x 8861M

On January 14, 2008, the MESSENGER spacecraft observed about half of the hemisphere not seen by Mariner 10. These images, mosaicked together by the MESSENGER team, were taken by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) instrument, about 20 minutes after MESSENGER's closest approach to Mercury (2:04 pm EST), when the spacecraft was at a distance of about 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles). The image shows features as small as 400 meters (0.25 miles) in size and is about 370 kilometers (230 miles) across.

The image shows part of a large, fresh crater with secondary crater chains located near Mercuryís equator on the side of the planet newly imaged by MESSENGER. Large, flat-floored craters often have terraced rims from post-impact collapse of their newly formed walls. The hundreds of secondary impactors that are excavated from the planetís surface by the incoming object create long, linear crater chains radial to the main crater. These chains, in addition to the rest of the ejecta blanket, create the complicated, hilly terrain surrounding the primary crater. By counting craters on the ejecta blanket that have formed since the impact event, the age of the crater can be estimated. This count can then be compared with a similar count for the crater floor to determine whether any material has partially filled the crater since its formation. With their large size and production of abundant secondary craters, these flat-floored craters both illuminate and confound the study of the geological history of Mercury.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Copyright © 1995-2016 by Calvin J. Hamilton. All rights reserved.