Center latitude: 39.90°N; longitude: 258.2°E
This high-resolution view shows hollows on the southwestern peak ring of the Scarlatti basin.

Center latitude: 51.99°N; longitude: 272.0°E
This is one of the highest-quality and highest-resolution images of hollows obtained by MESSENGER. It shows the incredibly smooth floor of these small hollows, which are located within the Sholem Aleichem basin.

Center latitude: 26.60°N; longitude: 120.5°E
This color-enhanced image shows a section of the floor and peak-ring mountains of the Raditladi impact basin with hollows appearing light blue.

These images capture a landform on Mercury that was discovered by MESSENGER. No features that are closely similar have been seen on the Moon or on any other rocky planetary surfaces. These features, called hollows, often have bright haloes and usually are found in or around impact craters. Hollows are shallow, irregularly shaped depressions with flat floors. Although the exact formation mechanism is unknown, it may involve loss of some component in the rock in a process similar to sublimation on Earth. The first two (left) images are striking because they show that there are abundant small impact craters on the surface surrounding the hollows, but few, if any, within the hollows themselves. Since impacts occur randomly over Mercury's surface and accumulate with time, the lack of craters on hollows indicates that they must be very young relative to the rest of Mercury's surface. Perhaps hollows are actively forming now!

Learn more about hollows on Mercury!