Monday, February 25, 2008

Latest image from the Mercury Flyby

As MESSENGER flew by Mercury, the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) captured this view on January 14, 2008. Two of the larger craters in this image appear to have darkened crater rims and partial “halos” of dark material immediately surrounding the craters. Both craters appear to have nearly complete rims and interior terraced walls, suggesting that they formed more recently than the other nearby shallower craters of similar size. There are two possible explanations for their dark halos: (1) Darker subsurface material may have been excavated during the explosions from the asteroid or comet impacts that produced the craters. (2) Large cratering explosions may have melted a fraction of the rocky surface material involved in the explosions, splashing so-called “impact melts” across the surface; such melted rock is often darker (lower albedo) than the pre-impact target material.

For more images check out

Catch up on the latest planetary science news with "Planetary Science Research Discoveries"

Planetary Science Research Discoveries (PSRD) is an educational site that summarizes the latest research on meteorites, asteroids, planets, and other bodies within our solar system. The site is supported by the Cosmochemistry Program of NASA's Science Mission Directorate and by the Hawai'i Space Grant Consortium. In existence since 1996, PSRD maintains a searchable archive of its issues, as well as a helpful glossary. The articles are neither too technical nor too simplified and include links to additional information and resources to help readers further their understanding of a particular topic. You may also choose to subscribe to be notified via email when new issues are posted. It's an excellent way to learn about current scientific research from the scientists who are actually doing the research!

The most recent article of PSRD focuses on the formation of the Moon. Check it out!!