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These Mercury Crater Pictures Look Like Amazing Abstract Art

Images of the surface of Mercury taken by the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft. Some are in visual wavelengths and some are in other wavelengths. Yellow areas are considered to be younger spots. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Images of the surface of Mercury taken by the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft. Some are in visual wavelengths and some are in other wavelengths. Yellow areas are considered to be younger spots. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

We’re lucky to have a spacecraft looking at Mercury and sending back information like this. NASA’s MESSENGER satellite just beamed back these images of three craters on the hplanet — Kertesz (top), Dominici (middle) and an unnamed crater (bottom).


Why the interesting appearance? That’s because some of these are color composites representing spectral information gathered by the spacecraft. By examining elements that are a part of the surface, scientists can get a sense of how the planet was formed and what parts of it were made when. For example, the yellow parts of those images are believed to be the youngest parts.

MESSENGER made its first flyby of Mercury in 2008 and entered orbit into the planet, which is the closest to the Sun, in 2011. Its discoveries including finding ice and hot flows amid the pictures of its cratered surface.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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