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This is a mosaic of the caloris basin and its surrounding area. The Caloris Basin is closest to the sun when Mercury is at the closest point in its orbit to the sun.
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NASA

The Caloris Basin

The Caloris Basin is the largest feature on the surface of Mercury. This crater was formed by the impact of a large meteorite in the early formation of the solar system. We only know what half of the crater looks like, because the other half was in darkness when Mariner 10 flew by the planet. Surrounding the impact site are concentric ridges within relatively smooth plains probably brought about by renewed volcanic activity which started after the impact. On the other side of the planet, directly across from the basin, is a region initially described as the "weird" terrain, where a chaotic mix of hills and fractures is present. This may have been produced in response to shock waves which traveled to this point on the surface following the Caloris Basin impact.

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Mercury's Craters

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The surface of Mercury has numerous interesting features, including a variety of craters, ridges, and terrains ranging from heavily cratered to nearly crater free. These features, and their location across...more

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The Caloris Basin

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Wrinkle Ridges

Wrinkle ridges on the surface of Mercury are thought to have been caused by the shrinking of the surface following the cooling and shrinking of the core of the planet. As the core cooled and shrank, the...more

Evolution of Mercury

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Mercury's Interior and Surface

Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system, is a little bigger than the Earth's Moon. The surface of the planet is covered with craters, like the Moon, but temperatures there can reach over 80...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF