Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Space Science

Mercury Turns Out To Be a Weird Little World 90

Posted by timothy
from the it's-certainly-mercurial dept.
sighted writes "The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER, now orbiting the first planet, has found new findings odd features on its surface, including unexplained, blueish 'hollows' that may be actively forming today. The findings will be published this week in Science. One scientist said, 'The conventional wisdom was that Mercury is just like the Moon. But from its vantage point in orbit, MESSENGER is showing us that Mercury is radically different from the Moon in just about every way we can measure.'" As you might expect, National Geographic has beautiful imagery to go along with the story.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mercury Turns Out To Be a Weird Little World

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    has found new findings

    As opposed to what? Finding old findings?

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      has found new findings

      As opposed to what? Finding old findings?

      Old findings - it's a hole in the sky through which we see the light of Heaven.

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      Stuff we found 50 years ago would be old findings.

      i'm more disturbed by find/find. That's just lazy writing.

    • by CSMoran (1577071)
      Finding findings sounded fishy so they neatly fixed it.
  • False Color (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NortySpock (1966236) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @04:59PM (#37559494)

    I'm pretty sure the blue color is false color showing height, as the image caption reads: "A colorized MESSENGER picture shows hollows (blue) in the Raditladi impact basin on Mercury."

    • No one bothered to think of the implications of the village of "evil doubles" Poppa Smurf made with his magic; those dark Doppelgängers had to be rid off after their duty done, and disposal via melting in a crater on the Hell Planet was the most convenient for Poppa.

    • Re:False Color (Score:4, Informative)

      by sighted (851500) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @05:10PM (#37559684) Homepage
      The images are enhanced (stretched) color, not false color. According to the official release, the hollows are "very bright and have a blue color relative to other areas of Mercury." As one image caption from NASA explains, "the enhanced-color locator image emphasizes the high reflectance and relatively blue color."
    • Nonsense. It's made of the same stuff as the bluish Horsehead Nebula [wikimedia.org]. I wonder why it sometimes turns pink [wikimedia.org].
      • by idontgno (624372)

        OMG PINK STAR PONIES!

        Why, yes, Slashdot, it IS just like shouting. Because it is, in fact, shouting.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're right that this is false color (speaking as a grad student using data from MDIS, the MESSENGER camera system). Mercury looks gray to our eyes. The red, green, and blue channels of this image are reflectance at 1000 nm, 750 nm, and 430 nm respectively. (This isn't altimetry: that data isn't ready for prime time yet.) The implication of this blue color is that hollow floors are young (planetary surfaces redden with age).

  • And thus proving that the rest of the solar isn't isn't a static, unchanging, and dead (lifeless??) environment.

    Yay!!!

  • I knew it! The harmoniums [wikipedia.org] are real!
  • ...the entire planet is made up of liquid mercury! And maybe liquid mercury on Mercury is blueish!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The article has a "colourised" picture to highlight the features. I don't think the features are actually blue.........

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      The article has a "colourised" picture to highlight the features. I don't think the features are actually blue.........

      You've ruined my vacation plans! I hope you are happy! >=(

    • Re:blueish? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sighted (851500) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @05:07PM (#37559642) Homepage
      The images you're referring to are enhanced (stretched) color, not false color. According to the official release, the hollows are "very bright and have a blue color relative to other areas of Mercury." As one image caption from NASA explains, "the enhanced-color locator image emphasizes the high reflectance and relatively blue color."
      • by philpalm (952191)
        Bluish color formations suggests copper. However maybe the smurfs have a mercury colony.....
  • A little higher res and we will be able to make out the blue string soup

  • Those pits look a lot like erosion from plasma arcs.

    • Mercury is the gateway electrode that allows the Sun to direct Plasma Arcs out into the solar system when the occupants of the planets stop taking care of the property.
  • So, what properties do Mercury and the Moon share? They're pretty close to the same size (I suppose, though not really), and don't have (much of) an atmosphere. Other than that, there is a massive difference in temperature, density, gravity, radiation, and composition (at the very least). The moon, for instance, it mostly silicate, while Mercury is more metallic.

    Oh yeah, and one is a planet while the other is a moon. Slight difference, I know, just thought I'd point it out.

    PS anyone else ever get annoyed

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      So, what properties do Mercury and the Moon share?

      They are both hell holes.

      I have evidence for Mercury right here:

      Spectrometers also reveal substantially higher abundances of sulfur and potassium than previously predicted.

      New data from orbit show a huge expanse of volcanic plains surrounding the north polar region of Mercury. These continuous smooth plains cover more than 6% of the total surface of Mercury.

      Scientists have also discovered vents, measuring up to 25 kilometers (km) (15.5 miles) in length, that appear to be the source of some of the tremendous volumes of very hot lava that have rushed out over the surface of Mercury and eroded the substrate, carving valleys and creating teardrop-shaped ridges in the underlying terrain.

      Now MESSENGER's orbital mission has provided close-up, targeted views of many of these craters. The bright areas are composed of small, shallow, irregularly shaped depressions that are often found in clusters said David T. Blewett, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and lead author of one of the Science reports. "The science team adopted the term 'hollows' for these features to distinguish them from other types of pits that are found on Mercury."

      Hollows have been found over a wide range of latitudes and longitudes, suggesting that they are fairly common across Mercury. Many of the depressions have bright interiors and halos, and Blewett says the ones detected so far have a fresh appearance and have not accumulated small impact craters, indicating that they are relatively young.

    • by chrismcb (983081) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @05:56PM (#37560248) Homepage

      PS anyone else ever get annoyed by how Wikipedia is inconsistent in how it lists statistics for planetary bodies? Drives me nuts when trying to make comparisons, or even just get useful information.

      Yeah. I wish there was a way to change that.

  • Odd. It doesn't look blueish.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Amazing that probes now enable us to learn what the planets of our solar system are really like.

    I predict that, within our lifetimes, the United States will routinely send astro-men into orbit and, perhaps, one day to the moon.

    • >>> I predict that, within our lifetimes, the United States will routinely send astro-men into orbit and, perhaps, one day to the moon.

      I believe that the government will fake it and then say they did . . .
    • Fairly sure that if we can send probes to other planets there won't be any need to send astro-men.
  • by airfoobar (1853132) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#37559992)
    Come on, admit it. The weirdest little world in this solar system is by far the one infected with humans.
  • "I even like the chicken if the sauce is not too blue."

    - ZZ Top

  • Those blast points are too accurate for sand people ..
    • by jezwel (2451108)
      Yet - after watching the new BD versions - Imperial Storm Troopers seem to be about the worst shooters in that far away galaxy.
  • It reminds me of the superb 1971 film The Andromeda Strain directed by Robert Wise. The virus in the film came from space and under a microscope is seen to grow. The new image of Mercury in the National Geographic article looks eerily like the growing virus... Sadly I can't find an image for this at the moment.
    • The new image of Mercury in the National Geographic article looks eerily like the growing virus

      Apart from a small difference in scale.

  • Hooloovoo

    A Hooloovoo is a hyperintelligent shade of the colour blue.

    Little is known of them, except that one participated in the construction of the starship Heart of Gold. At the launching ceremony one was temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism. This is probably analogous to the ceremonial multicoloured lab coats worn by the rest of the team.
  • Makes that slashdot subscription worth every penny!
  • Pictures [nasa.gov] would be nice
  • is it ..... MERCURY?
  • "What's more, the hollows look distinctly fresh, because they haven't been reshaped by later impact events."

    I don't pretend to know more than an astronomer, but doesn't the Sun catch a lot of things that would otherwise fly into Mercury ?

    • by jwilso91 (1920940)

      I don't pretend to know more than an astronomer, but doesn't the Sun catch a lot of things that would otherwise fly into Mercury ?

      Perhaps more accurately, the Sun sucks a lot of things into Mercury. The planet is a vacuum bag on the Solar system's most impressive Hoover.

  • MESSENGER revealed an unexpected class of landform on Mercury and suggest that a previously unrecognized geological process is responsible for its formation. I'm not an astrophysicist. Doesn't "Geological" refer specifically to Earth? The "Geo" comes from "Gaea," the Greek personification of Earth. Mercury would be something like "Hermeticological" I would think. I got this from a sci-fi book (one of Heinlien's, if I recall correctly), so don't jump on me if it's incorrect.
    • by Convector (897502)

      Yeah, techincally there's a different name for Earth sciences on each planet (or other celestial body), but in practice nobody uses them. It just sounds awkward and the scientific principles are the same on other planets. So you have "Martian Geoid" instead of "Areoid", "Mercurian Geology" instead of "Hermeticological", and "Lunar Geography" instead of "Selenography".

  • Does anybody else think this resembles the result of putting a small, EMPTY, potato chip bag in the microwave for 3-4 seconds? The arcing on the metal instantly melts the plastic, which globs up due to surface tension and shrinks. Try it, you'll like it.
  • Did National Geographic take a close-up picture of my face while I was sleeping?
  • I just looked at the pictures of the blue hollows - and in addition to finding the landscape awfully regular, almost like a pattern of crystallization, it struck me that the layout of the hollows also looked a *lot* like the article from yesterday, about checking the pattern of radiation in your microwave oven.

    Which leads to the question as to whether they're mapping microwave weather from the Sun.

                    mark

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.

Working...