Thursday, October 30, 2008

A tour of the surface of Mercury from MESSENGER

A series of five 11-band images was captured by MESSENGER just after the spacecraft crossed the night/day line (the “terminator”). At the beginning of the movie, it is dawn in that region of Mercury and the Sun is just off the horizon. The long shadows cast by crater walls exaggerate the ruggedness of the terrain and highlight variations in topography. Though Mercury’s true colors are subtle, the 11 color bands of MDIS were combined in a statistical method used to highlight differences in color units. Older, low-reflectance, and relatively blue material is encroached by younger, relatively red smooth plains. Several lobate scarps or cliffs are observed, which are places where compressional stresses caused Mercury’s crust to fracture and shorten.

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