Enhanced color image of Mercury

Enhanced color image of Mercury

. This false-color composite was formed from re-calibrated Mariner 10 images at different wavelengths to highlight differences in surface minerals on Mercury. The color units in this and similar images are consistent with wide-spread plains formed by volcanism on the planet. The yellow splash at the lower right marks the location of a 60-km-wide ray Kuiper crater believed to have excavated unusual material from below the surface about 1 billion years ago. Reddish areas contain fewer opaque minerals and may represent primitive crustal material; the dark and blue regions are consistent with enhanced titanium content. The composite also suggests that the planet has undergone differentiation with heavy minerals sinking inside and lighter ones rising to the surface. The Kuiper crater is named after the astronomer Gerard Kuiper (1905-1973), a Mariner 10 team member. (Courtesy of JPL and NASA.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University