Santa Maria rupes

Santa Maria rupes

Fig. 6.16 . Mercury’s surface is distinguished from those of the other terrestrial planets and the Earth’s Moon by having enormous cliffs, or scarps, that cut across its surface. The dark lobate scarp that diagonally crosses this Mariner 10 image has been named Santa Maria rupes, after Christopher Columbus’ (1451-1506) flagship on his first voyage to America in 1492, and "rupes" is the Latin word for "cliff." This long cliff was probably created when the planet cooled and contracted. The 90-km diameter crater in the upper right hand corner has been filled, or embayed, by intercrater plains. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Northeastern U.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University