Cool images from Mars and Mercury

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Here are two image releases of interest, one from Mars and one from Mercury.

Pavonis Mons pit

First the Mars image. This close-up image of a pit, requested by a seventh grade Mars student team at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, California, shows more evidence of underground voids on Mars. The pit is located on the flank of one of Mars’ larger volcanoes, and suggests that there is a lava tube below it. At some point the roof over the tube at this point became unstable and collapsed, producing the surface pit.

A close-up image of the shadowed part of the pit with the exposure turned way up unfortunately shows that there is no skylight in the pit into the lava tube.

Next, the Mercury image, from Messenger.

crater on Mercury

What makes this crater image so intriguing is the dark flow going down past the crater rim on its southeast flank. Not only does it appear to originate from within the crater itself, it seems to flow under the crater rim. According to the Messenger science team, the darker material is some form of impact melt, though they remain unsure of what exactly is happening here.


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