PIA12149: Picture of a Pit-Floor Crater

Picture of a Pit-Floor Crater


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The crater at the center of this image contains a large, nearly circular pit crater, identified with the white arrow. Multiple examples of pit craters ( PIA10186 ) have been observed on Mercury on the floors of impact craters, leading to the name pit-floor craters for the impact structures that host these features. Unlike impact craters, pit craters are rimless, often irregularly shaped, steep-sided, and display no associated ejecta or lava flows. These pit craters are thought to be evidence of shallow volcanic activity and may have formed when retreating magma caused an unsupported area of the surface to collapse, creating a pit. Pit-floor craters may provide an indication of internal igneous processes where other evidence of volcanic processes is absent or ambiguous. The discovery of multiple pit-floor craters augments a growing body of evidence that volcanic activity has been a widespread process in the geologic evolution of Mercury's crust.

Date Acquired: January 14, 2008
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 510 meters/pixel (0.32 miles/pixel)
Scale: The central impact crater with the pit crater on its floor is 102 kilometers (63 miles) in diameter.
Location: 35.5°N, 249.1°E
Projection: This image is an orthographic reprojection created from NAC images taken as MESSENGER approached Mercury during its first flyby.

Background Info:

These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Mercury
Target Type Planet
Instrument Host MESSENGER
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Detector Narrow Angle Camera (NAC)
Extra Keywords Crater, Grayscale, Impact, Volcano
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2009-07-21
Date in Caption 2008-01-14
Image Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA12149
Identifier PIA12149