Rembrandt crater as seen by MESSENGER. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Rembrandt crater as seen by MESSENGER. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Hello and good morning, Earthlings!

Today I want to look at the beautiful Rembrandt crater on Mercury!

Mercury is our Solar System’s closest planet to the Sun, so it is very difficult to study. But after 2 missions to Mercury- Mariner 10 and MESSENGER- we have just scratched the surface on how mysterious some features are!

Rembrandt crater is 715 km in diameter, and the second largest impact crater on Mercury (the largest being Caloris Basin!)

The outer boundary (crater rim) is outlined by a ring of scarps and massifs. The crater is then surrounded by clocky impact deposits made when the impacting excavated subsurface material and uplifted it off to the sides.

The interior of Rembrandt includes two terrain types: hummocky terrain and smooth plains. The hummocky terrain occupies a part of the basin's floor near its northern margin forming an incomplete ring. The smoother plains fill much of the interior of Rembrandt. These two plain types are separated from each other by a ring of massifs.

The smooth plains are of interest to planetary geologists on Mercury. The smooth plains filling the inner part of Rembrandt are interpreted to be of the volcanic origin. Similar to Lunar mare, although lighter in color than their surroundings (rather than darker like the Lunar mare). Smooth plains are intersected by systems of wrinkle ridges and scarps, relating to local tectonics.

Rim of Rembrandt crater. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Rim of Rembrandt crater. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Smithsonian Institution/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Thank you for reading and next week- we’ll look at Phoebe!