Astronomy Picture of the Week – Mercury Craters

Mercury looks so much like our Moon, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

This photo of the unusual Rembrandt impact basin was taken by the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft in 2008. The Rembrandt impact basin spans over 700 kilometers and is 4 billion years old, which makes it probably the youngest large impact basin on the planet. Data transmitted by MESSENGER indicate that the crater floor contains unusually high amounts of iron and titanium. This would indicate that those exposed materials have not been covered by more recent lava floes, and so most probably originated in an early epoch of Mercury’s formation.

Mercury Rembrandt impact basin

Image Credit: NASA/JHU APS/ASU/CIW – MESSENGER Mission