Mercury Rupes and Craters
Mercury Rupes and Craters
Mercury Rupes and Craters

Mercury Rupes and Craters

Courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA10609


When MESSENGER flew by Mercury on January 14, 2008, it got images of new examples of long cliffs (rupes) such as the one seen here in the bottom right corner. The cliff can be followed from the bottom edge of the image, cutting through and deforming an impact crater, and curving out of the image frame on the middle right edge. This image shows an area about 200 km (125 mi) across. This cliff actually extends for hundreds of kilometers.

"Rupes" is the Latin word for cliff. On Mercury, rupes are named after the ships of famous explorers. This cliff is Beagle Rupes, after the ship on which naturalist Charles Darwin sailed around the world. Other names include Discovery Rupes (for a ship of Captain Cook), Santa Maria Rupes (for a ship of Christopher Columbus), and Victoria Rupes (for a ship of Ferdinand Magellan). (The word rupes is both singular and plural).