Say cheese! Mercury is caught on camera

Say cheese! Mercury is caught on camera

Make your own Mercury craters

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has finally reached Mercury. Now, us earthlings can see parts of Mercury that we've never seen before. MESSENGER has beamed back the first ever pictures taken within Mercury's orbit. Check out the crater in this picture. It's 39 miles wide!

Mercury craters

Mercury's Kuiper crater, 39 miles in diameter (c) NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Craters form when giant rocks, or asteroids, smash into the Mercury. This causes a huge collision. Rubble is thrown up into the air and then falls back to Mercury's surface, making lots of smaller craters.

Make your own craters!

You could take pictures of craters, just like the MESSENGER spacecraft. Do this outside so you don't make a mess! Get a big tray, or a tupperware container. Fill it with a mix of flour and hot chocolate powder. Collect up some round objects of different sizes - try marbles and golf balls. Now, drop the round objects into the tray. What size craters do they make? What happens if you change the height that you drop the objects from?

If you have a camera you can take photos like this. Make up your own names for the craters!

Craters on Mercury

Craters on Mercury (c) Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Main image: Drawing of MESSENGER flying around Mercury (c) NASA

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