Images of previously unseen areas of Mercury released. Lots of volcanic activity

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Earth's first nearly full look at Mercury reveals that the tiny lifeless planet took a far greater role in in shaping itself than scientists had thought with volcanoes spewing 'mysterious dark blue material.' (AP Photo / NASA)

The images were released a few days ago, but what with the excitement of the election I (and maybe a lot of others that have a hard time tearing themselves away from, and all the rest) forgot about it until now. Here's on the images and the flyby:

NASA has now released photos from Messenger's fly-by earlier this month, that gave the answer -- Lots of volcanic activity, far more than signs from an earlier probe.

MIT planetary scientist Maria Zuber says astronomers used to dismiss Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, as mere "dead rock" -- little more than a target for cosmic collisions that shaped it.

"Now, it's looking a lot more interesting," says Zuber, who has experiments on the Messenger probe.

She says "It's an awful lot of volcanic material."

New images of craters filled with cooled lava show that 3.8 to four billion years ago, Mercury was more of a volcanic hotspot than the moon ever was, Zuber said.


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