Posted by Lydia on June 29th, 2008
MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and
Ranging), the first space mission designed to orbit Mercury was launched on August 3, 2004. On January 14, 2008, the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard the spacecraft, captured new and different views of the elusive planet. http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/sciencePhotos/view.php?gallery_id=2Photos of two of the larger craters, located near the planet’s south pole, depict images of dark halos surrounding crater rims. This information suggests that these craters were formed more recently than others of similar size and may have been formed by ejectae from asteroid or comet impacts or from asteroid or comet explosions melting portions of the rocky planet’s surface and splashing these so called “impact melts” across the area. Scientists are carefully studying the acquired images to determine the composition of the newly revealed subsurface material in attempt to extract Mercury’s Material Mysteries.