Mercury as you’ve never seen it before!

The MESSENGER mission to Mercury has released this fascinating false-color image of the planet.  I’ve reduced it in size to fit here, but the full-size image makes great wallpaper for your computer screen (I’m using it for that purpose right now).

The mission’s Web site reports:

This colorful view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER’s primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up Mercury’s surface.

Young crater rays, extending radially from fresh impact craters, appear light blue or white. Medium- and dark-blue areas are a geologic unit of Mercury’s crust known as the “low-reflectance material”, thought to be rich in a dark, opaque mineral. Tan areas are plains formed by eruption of highly fluid lavas. The giant Caloris basin is the large circular tan feature located just to the upper right of center of the image.

There’s more at the link.  The other side of the planet may be seen here, or there’s this brief YouTube video animating the planet as a whole.  Try it in full-screen mode for a very impressive view.

Ain’t science fun?


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