The 68-mile (109-km) -wide Amaral crater on Mercury reveals its brightly-tipped central peaks in this image, acquired by NASAs MESSENGER spacecraft on Feb. 4, 2012. Long shadows are cast by the craters peaks and rugged rim (north is to the left.)
The image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation with MESSENGERs Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) on its Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).
Amarals bright peaks were first spotted during MESSENGERs first flyby of Mercury in Jan. 2008. With a smooth floor, visible ejecta and small secondary craters, Amaral appeared noticeably younger than the heavily cratered surface around it.
Its central peaks also attracted astronomers interest, as they were seen to possess a striking blue hue in color-enhanced images that likely indicates rocks with different composition from the surrounding surface.
Amarals peaks resemble those of the slightly larger crater Eminescu, which is now known to contain recently-discovered features called hollows. Its not yet known if Amaral also contains hollows, but its suspected that they may be present on the tips of the peaks.
The crater is named after Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral. She lived from 1886 to 1973 and is considered to be one of the leading Latin American modernist painters.
Explore further: SMART-1 close-up on Zucchius crater’s central peaks