Degas Crater

Degas Crater on Mercury photographed by the MESSENGER spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Degas Crater on Mercury photographed by the MESSENGER spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Here’s an image of Degas crater on the planet Mercury. The RGB -Red, Green, Blue- image was obtained with the Wide Angle Camera portion of the MESSENGER spacecraft dual imaging system.

Degas is 32 miles (~52k) in diameter. It’s a little unclear what exactly the dark material on the crater floor is, it’s just called “low reflective material”. The crater floor has cracks not uncommon on Mercury. The cracks form when impact melt solidifies and contracts on cooling. Make me wonder if the cracking might be in part to the timing of the impact too as the dark side of Mercury is exceeding cold while the day side is well over 600oF / 315oC while the night side plunges to around -280oF /-173oC. The crater walls seem to be “slumping” as well.

A larger image is available at the MESSENGER website.

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