Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 8, 1996
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Degas Ray Crater on Mercury
Mariner 10 Project NASA,

Explanation: Like the Earth's Moon, Mercury is scarred with craters, testifying to an intense bombardment during the early history of the Solar System. In 1974, the Mariner 10 spacecraft surveyed this innermost planet up close, producing the only detailed images of its tortured surface. In the above mosaic the bright rays emanating from the 27 mile wide Degas crater almost appear to be painted on. The rays consist of light colored material blasted out during the crater's formation. Numerous smaller, younger craters are seen superposed on the Degas crater itself.

Tomorrow's picture: Callisto Full Face

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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