Mercury orbiter captures crater in colour


This image from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft is a colour view of the impact crater Sor Juana on the planet Mercury. The crater interior contains smooth material, probably impact melt, that embays the central peak. The rim is relatively sharp, with well developed terraces. Sor Juana does not have its own rays – the bright ray patches containing chains and clusters of secondary craters that are dotted around the scene originated at Hokusai.

Sor Juana is named for Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Sister Joan Agnes of the Cross), a nun and poet who lived from 1651 to 1695 in what is now Mexico. Some authorities consider her body of work to be the most important in North America until the arrival of 19th Century poets such as Dickinson and Whitman.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury.

Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.