Mercury 'Spider Crater' Spotted

Probe reveals never-before-seen side of Mercury
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 10:19 AM CST
Mercury 'Spider Crater' Spotted
This image provided by NASA shows the planet Mercury in a Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 picture made by the Messenger spacecraft at a distance of approximately 17,000 miles following the spacecraft's closest approach to Mercury. On the upper right is the giant Caloris basin, including its western portions never...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – NASA's first probe to Mercury in more than 30 years has made some spectacular finds, including a mysterious new crater dubbed "the spider," reports. The network of cracks radiating from the impact crater photographed by the probe is like nothing else ever seen in the solar system. "Our little craft has returned a gold mine of exciting data," said the chief scientist.

The Messenger probe has photographed much of the 55% of the planet scientists have never seen before, and gathered data on the planet's puzzling magnetic field. Experts now think they have evidence of volcanic activity on Mercury. "I've waited 30 years for this. It didn't disappoint," said a team member. The tiny probe will pass Mercury again later this year. (Read more Mercury stories.)

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