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A Cliff Runs Through It
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A Cliff Runs Through It
Release Date: October 10, 2008
Topics: Mercury Flyby 2, , Scarps and Rupes

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131771143
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 140 meters/pixel (0.09 miles/pixel) near the bottom of the image
Scale: The bottom of this image is about 140 kilometers across (87 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 5,600 kilometers (3,500 miles)

Of Interest: Extending from the left edge of this image downward toward the lower right corner is a long cliff face. This cliff runs through a large ancient crater in the center of the frame. Cliffs such as this one, referred to as rupes on Mercury, have been identified on other areas of the planet, such as Beagle Rupes imaged during MESSENGER's first flyby. This rupes is being seen for the first time, as this portion of Mercury's surface is located within the “gap” present in the Mariner 10 dataset. This cliff may have been created when, in Mercury's past, the entire planet cooled and the surface consequently contracted.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.


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