Thursday, July 10, 2008

Caloris basin on Mercury

Enhanced Color Caloris
Image Credit: Courtesy of Science/AAAS

Explanation: The sprawling Caloris basin on Mercury is one of the solar system's largest impact basins. Created during the early history of the solar system by the impact of a large asteroid-sized body, the basin spans about 1,500 kilometers and is seen in yellowish hues in this enhanced color mosaic. The image data is from the January 14th flyby of the MESSENGER spacecraft, captured with the MDIS instrument. Orange splotches around the basin's perimeter are now thought to be volcanic vents, new evidence that Mercury's smooth plains are indeed lava flows. Other discoveries at Mercury by NASA's MESSENGER mission include evidence that Mercury, like planet Earth, has a global magnetic field generated by a dynamo process in its large core, and that Mercury's surface has contracted significantly as its core cooled.


Tommy said...

So why did god make Mercury?

It's funny when you challenge theists on things like this, because their standard answer is "God made Mercury [or the moon] with the appearance of having been bombarded with asteroids and meteors a long time ago."

But if God is going to make Mercury of the moon appear to have had massive impact events, then where did God get the idea for it before creating the universe? What was his frame of reference? Even more, all of the bodies that have large amounts of visible impact craters in our solar system show no indications of recent volcanic activity to erase the impacts or have any atmospheres sufficient to shield them from the impacts. In other words, the conditions we observe are what we should expect in the absence of design.

CyberKitten said...

Amazing photograph.