Cookie Monster Crater on Mercury

by Nancy Atkinson on October 12, 2012

Big Bird has been grabbing the headlines lately, and its time for another Muppet to get a little face time. So, here’s Cookie Monster’s face, plastered across the surface of Mercury. Well, it looks like it, anyway. This is an image from the MESSENGER spacecraft, orbiting Mercury, and the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center suggested this superposition of younger craters on older craters (in this case two smaller and shadowed craters that look like googly eyes placed on the rim of an older crater) appears to resemble everyone’s favorite blue, Sesame Street, cookie-loving monster.

While most of us can enjoy this image for the pareidolia effect of seeing a familiar face (and start salivating about cookies), what scientists are looking at here are craters. Specifically in this image, the Law of Superposition allows scientists to determine which surface features pre- and postdate others, leading to a better understanding of the geological history of different regions of Mercury’s surface.

Or, in Sesame Street lingo, which comes first?

Also, C is for crater.

The MESSENGER spacecraft acquired this image on August 29, 2012.

Image credit: Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington. Click image for access to higher resolution versions.

Hat Tip: @NASAGoddard

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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