A Flash in the Dark
This high-resolution image reveals the shape of a small, fresh crater on Mercury. In the inset color image, which is a composite of the MDIS Wide Angle Camera filters with the 1000-nm filter depicted in red, the 750-nm filter depicted in green, and the 430-nm filter depicted in blue, this crater is so bright relative to the surroundings that it appears to be close to the same size as the crater to its west. However, from this main image, it is clear that this bright crater is less than half the size of its neighbor. Small craters like this are extremely valuable scientifically, as they excavate material that has been sheltered from the harsh space environment and what is known as space weathering. By studying their spectral properties, scientists can begin to understand both the composition of the surface and how space weathering alters the uppermost surface of the planet.
Date acquired: August 02, 2011
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington