Mercury's many colors

Jul 27, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Although composited from expanded wavelengths of light, this wide-angle image from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft shows the amazing variation of colors and tones to be found on Mercury’s Sun-scoured surface.

This scene lies between Mercury’s Moody and Amaral craters, spanning an area of about 1200 km (745 miles). The patch of dark blue Low Reflectance Material (LRM) in the upper left of the image and the bright rayed crater on the right make this a diverse view of Mercury’s surface. Note the curious small, dark crater just below the bright rayed crater on the right.

Dark LRM material is thought to indicate the presence of a mineral called ilmenite, which is composed of iron and titanium and has been revealed through volcanic, cratering and erosion processes.

Did you know that until MESSENGER arrived in 2008 half of Mercury had never been seen? And that although Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun there may still be water ice on its surface? Learn more about these and other fascinating facts about here.

Explore further: Astronauts to get 'ISSpresso' coffee machine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bright peaks, dark shadows

Feb 20, 2012

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 ...

MESSENGER reveals Mercury’s colors

Apr 23, 2012

The subtle yet surprisingly varied colors of Mercury are revealed in the latest images from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, now in its extended mission and second year in orbit.

A peek at a pitch-black pit

Mar 20, 2012

MESSENGER captured this high-resolution image of an elongated pit crater within the floor of the 355-km (220-mile) -wide crater Tolstoj on Mercury on Jan. 11, 2012. The low angle of sun illumination puts the ...

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 ...

Mercury down under

Feb 27, 2012

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, about to wrap up its first full year in orbit around Mercury, captured this view of the planet’s heavily-cratered southern hemisphere on August 28, 2011. Because of its ...

Recommended for you

European space plane set for February launch

38 minutes ago

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

39 minutes ago

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

Astronauts to get 'ISSpresso' coffee machine

Nov 20, 2014

Ristretto or lungo? Not a question astronauts on the International Space Station normally have to contemplate, but that is about to change thanks to a new zero-gravity coffee machine being delivered this weekend.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.