Smooth Volcanic Plains
NASA/JHUAPL/CIW-DTM/GSFC/MIT/Brown University. Rendering by James Dickson and Jim Head
This vista shows ancient volcanic plains in the northern high latitudes of Mercury, captured by instruments onboard the MESSENGER spacecraft. These northern smooth plains comprise about 6 percent of the surface of Mercury and were created almost four billion years ago.
The large circular features are impact craters from space rocks that impacted after the plains formed. The softer, more subdued circular areas are remnants of ancient craters that were later flooded by molten rock. Some of these features contain patterns of cracks, which could be related to to cooling and deformation of the plains.
This image is a result of altimetry data from the MESSENGER Laser Altimeter superimposed on image data from the Mercury Dual Imaging System. Purple is low and white is high, spanning a range of about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles). The width of this photo spans about 250 km (155 mi).