Getting The Spins
This is a still image taken from a rotating movie of Mercury's globe. A global color map of Mercury's surface has been created by mosaicking thousands of sets of images obtained by the MESSENGER Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The colors shown here are related to variations in the spectral reflectance across the planet. This view captures both compositional differences and differences in how long materials have been exposed at Mercury's surface. Young crater rays, arrayed radially around 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 large circular area near the top center is the Caloris impact basin, whose interior is filled with smooth, somewhat younger volcanic plains. Small orangish spots are materials deposited by explosive volcanic eruptions.
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington