Cookie Monster Crater on Mercury

Article written: 12 Oct , 2012
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
by

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

Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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6 Responses

  1. Queequeg de la Pequod says

    Me want cookie, Horatio. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy

  2. Yashirov says

    Like the “face” on Mars, I’m sure this will stir up the kooks who will claim that PBS and NASA have been conspiring to hide the fact that Sesame Street has had an extraterrestrial in its cast for years.

  3. Guest says

    Thanks for the Chicken/Egg dichotomy video, Nancy! I haven’t seen that for over 10 years! It used to be one of my favorite SS tunes! nice memories…

  4. Thanks for the Chicken/Egg dichotomy video, Nancy! I haven’t seen that for over 30 years! It used to be one of my favorite SS tunes! nice memories…

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