Bright peaks, dark shadows

Feb 20, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
MESSENGER image of Mercury's Amaral crater

The 68-mile (109-km) -wide Amaral crater on Mercury reveals its brightly-tipped central peaks in this image, acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft on Feb. 4, 2012. Long shadows are cast by the crater’s peaks and rugged rim (north is to the left.)

The image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation with MESSENGER’s Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) on its Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).

Amaral’s bright peaks were first spotted during MESSENGER’s first flyby of in Jan. 2008. With a smooth floor, visible ejecta and small secondary craters, Amaral appeared noticeably younger than the heavily cratered surface around it.

Bright peaks, dark shadows
Amaral's "blue" peaks seen in a color-enhanced global image acquired Jan. 14, 2008.

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.

Amaral’s peaks resemble those of the slightly larger Eminescu, which is now known to contain recently-discovered features called hollows. It’s not yet known if Amaral also contains hollows, but it’s 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: How Rosetta arrives at a comet

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More 'hollowed ground' on Mercury

Jan 05, 2012

The latest featured image from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, soon to complete its first year in orbit around Mercury, shows the central peak of the 78-mile (138-km) – wide crater Eminescu surrounded ...

Kuiper's color close-up

Feb 14, 2012

The pale-orange coloration around the 39-mile (62-km) -wide Kuiper crater on Mercury is evident in this image, a color composition made from targeted images acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft on ...

Crater with dark and bright ejecta

Jan 27, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- This Dawn FC (framing camera) image is centered on a small, young, fresh crater with bright and dark ejecta rays extending from it. This image is a brightness image, which is taken directly ...

Incredible ‘sideways’ look at Mercury’s limb

Nov 29, 2011

Wow -- just wow! Here’s a unique, jaw-dropping, and beautiful look at Mercury from the MESSENGER spacecraft, in a mosaic created from nine images taken by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury ...

Recommended for you

How Rosetta arrives at a comet

1 hour ago

After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA's Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

Lunar occultation of Saturn

1 hour ago

On the night of Monday August 4, mainland Australia will see Saturn disappear behind the moon. It's the third time this year that the moon and Saturn will perfectly line up, as viewed from our part of the ...

SHERLOC to micro-map Mars minerals and carbon rings

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —An ultraviolet-light instrument on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars 2020 rover will use two types of ultraviolet-light spectroscopy, plus a versatile camera, to help meet the mission's ambitious ...

NuSTAR celebrates two years of science in space

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, a premier black-hole hunter among other talents, has finished up its two-year prime mission, and will be moving onto its next phase, ...

User comments : 0