Let’s pass over Mercury

By Phil Plait | February 1, 2008 11:30 am

This picture of a crater from Mercury came out a little while ago, but I’ve been busy. Better late than never. Check it:

What do we make of this?

1) Mercury is copyrighted. Everyone says Mercury looks like the Moon, but the Moon is actually several hundred million years younger than Mercury. This means the Moon is in violation of the law.

2) Some say this looks like a telephone in the crater, but that’s silly. Who has a phone that looks like this any more?

3) Ralph Rene and Bart Sibrel are right (scroll down a little bit to "Note R").

4) The feature is actually a U, not a C, and therefore Mercury is kosher.

5) It’s an angel. Hey, it looks as much like one as this does.

What do you see? I mean, what do you C?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, NASA, Pareidolia, Pretty pictures

Comments (54)

  1. Dan

    Mercury is one very-large vitamin C tablet.

  2. Rick Johnson

    Looks like what my neighbor’s dog used to leave in my yard.


  3. This is clearly a structure very similar to the Face on Mars. We can see here that Mercurians have no eyes, and big friendly smiles.

  4. Mercury may be copyrighted, but the moon was produced under the fair-use tenets of copyright law, allowing satire and excerpts for critiquing.

    Since the moon is an excerpt of the Earth, it’s essentially a satire of Mercury.

    Now Nibiru… there’s a copyright violation.

  5. I’d tell ya, but then I’d have to kill ya.

  6. Clearly that’s a prop C. Mercury is just a hoax cooked up by NASA. Everyone knows that you use letters to denote prop planets.

  7. Genesius

    It shows that these faked pictures of Mercury were made by the same people who made the props for the fake Moon landing. I mean, what other explanation for finding a letter “C” in both places. . . ?

    (Post written with tongue far enough in cheek to need surgical intervention for the extraction.)

  8. Todd

    Clearly, it is a circular ear. Yes, Mercury is the head of a giant.

  9. Rav Winston

    [fundie] No, no– This PROVES the existence of GOD! WHO ELSE but TEH GOD OF CReATION could copyright a PLANET???

    “The heavens declare his glory!!!”[/fundie]

  10. ABR

    It looks like Stephen Colbert’s desk!

  11. Todd

    An added thought on the copyright status of Mercury. Anyone versed in intellectual property rights would know that even if the moon is a copy of Mercury, no rights were violated, as enough time has passed for Mercury to fall into public domain.

  12. Cory Meyer

    No, Phil. It’s obviously “n” embedded in a circle. It was the ancients’ symbol of saying Planet N. Obviously, duh, we errored in being one letter off by calling it Mercury. It’s so clear now.

  13. Christa Cochran

    It’s giant headphones – the planet Mercury is just a large and very secretive recording studio where artists such as Elvis go after they “die”

  14. madge
  15. Navneeth

    You’re looking at it the wrong way. It’s copy-lefted!

  16. Rav Winston

    Where’s little Dickie Hoagland when you need him?

  17. Hey Phil, how about a little NSFW warning next time! I shouldn’t be looking at Mercury’s nipple on a lab computer!

  18. Not to toot PZ’s horn, but it looks like a pharyngula stage embryo, egads, I’m a geologist, what am I thinking

  19. Michael Lonergan
  20. Ubi Dubium

    Well, if you include the two smaller craters at the upper right edge of the larger one, it is obvious that we have a smiling frog. AHA! Proof that Mercury once had water!! And that it’s happy to see us.

  21. The Flying Spaghetti Monster drew it with His Noodly Appendage. He was severely drunk at the time, and none of the great Pastafarian prophets were ever able to discern its meaning. We think it has something to do with leather handcuffs.

  22. It is clearly a smiley face. A bug-eyed one. The eyes are on the top-right part of the rim ūüėČ

  23. Brown

    If you look to the upper right, you can see a larger crater. The smaller crater at the center of the picture looks like, I dunno, a sort of “mouse ear” on the larger crater. But who, pray tell, would ever even think of trying to protect any mouse-related intellectual property?

  24. Becca Stareyes

    “I’ll just bet that if we follow those planets, we’ll find Planet X.” — Duck Dodgers.

    Anyone see Planet D?

  25. Well, BA, you biased the results by orienting the image that way. It was meant to be seen rotated counterclockwise 135 degrees.

    Clearly, it’s an image of an ancient astronaut, kneeling in his spacecraft as it orbits the planet.

  26. Edward C

    I have a phone that looks like that.

  27. Drrrk

    That? That’s nothing.

    That’s just the kidney-shaped pool I’m having built.

  28. Well combined with the obviously hexagonal shape of the crater, its cytosine – one of the proteins found in DNA. The symbols for the atoms are just obscured by dust at the moment, but I can clearly see the NH2 and O there.

    Combined with so many other blatant clues on the other planets, this means our solar system is just one big DNA strand. This proves that Darwin was right.

  29. Cytosine is a nucleotide. Proteins are made of amino acids.

  30. JoaoXP

    Oh, such a cute little pig

  31. Dave

    Mercury is obviously part of the Colbert Nation.

  32. menglander

    It is the FSM smiling back at us!! You can even see some of His Noodly Appendages on both sides!


  33. Becca Stareyes says: “‚ÄúI‚Äôll just bet that if we follow those planets, we‚Äôll find Planet X.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ Duck Dodgers.

    Aaaarrrghhh! You beat me to it!

    OK, how about Mercury has a pierced septum and a nose ring?

    – Jack

  34. aiabx

    It looks like a banana to me – the symbol of intelligent design!

  35. Ah yes Barton – I bow to your superior knowledge. I meant to say “bases” but my mind was elsewhere.

  36. Roger Strong

    You realize where this is going…..

    Someone is going to count craters and estimate that the copyright notice has been there 20 million years longer than American copyright terms.

    The RIAA and MPAA will then lobby the government for an emergency 20 million year copyright term extention.

  37. Spankermatic says: “I meant to say ‘bases’ but my mind was elsewhere.”

    Yes, all your bases are belong to us.

    – Jack

  38. Ah – thanks Jack for that step back into Sega Mega Drive history. Your l33t skilz roxor.

  39. I guess we really are property – intellectual property…

  40. Dave Hall

    Well, it isn’t Slartbartfarst’s initials.

  41. bb

    It’s obiously the remaining upper (or lower) half of an H. From the original name of the planet: “Hermes” not “Mercury”!

    P.S.: We *must* rename Neptune to Poseidon to get the P back at the end of our planetary list! Not kidding.

  42. alex

    giant bacteria o0 ???

  43. NelC

    Well, look, rock C on the fake moon picture, C on Mercury, obviously Nasa recycled the rock to stand in for Mercury.

  44. Sean Bray

    I think it might be “Chairface Chippendale” that villain from the Tick Comics and cartoon that wrote the first 3 letters of his name on the moon with a giant laser before he was stopped. Obviously, he tried again on Mercury. Or, perhaps that “Spider” that you showed the other day bit it.

  45. Argyl

    Why is it that every planetary image I see where the sun shines from the right or bottom, the craters look like pancakes sticking out? I always need to flip those images 180 degrees to to see the topography correctly.

  46. Argyl: It’s a psychological effect. We’re used to seeing things lit from above, since that’s where the sun is and where generally you have the room lights. So if you see an aerial photo of a crater, and the sun is off the top of the frame, you see it as a crater. Your brain interprets the shadow at top and the highlight at the bottom correctly.

    But if the sun is off the bottom of the frame, your brain interprets the highlight at the top to be a bump, a reflection from the sun off the top of the frame, and the shadow at the bottom to be a shadow off of what your brain is now interpreting as a hill.

  47. Argyl

    I’ve thought that it must be such. But when viewing other “illusions”, like the cube drawn with lines it’s easy to switch between seeing it either way. I’m always disturbed that I need to flip a picture around to see what it actually represents… sort of makes me like laser and radar measurements more that photographs, since the data can be represented unambigously.

    When I’ve seen the photos with the light from the “right” direction, I can understand the craters, and in this case Mercury more, the illusion of pancakes is really annoying. Of course most images are published with north at top, at least I think that’s the case? Also the illusion of the phone handset is less prominent when you see it with the topography right. It’s a depression and a central peak that might have formed from a low angle impact.

    I don’t think the amount of double craters so far seen in pictures is a coincidence. Of course, I’m just an amateur, what do I know about planetary geology. There’s a term for martian geology, Areology. What’s the term for Mercurean geology? Hermology?

  48. Argyl

    If there is no term like areology for Mercury, I’d like to suggest hermology, in keeping with areology, geology, etc. That is, greek based words for the study of land formations. (Mars – Ares, Mercury – Hermes.)

    I think hermetology and hermetiscism and such have already been taken long ago for alchemical pseudosciences, after Hermes Trismegistus, some sort of mythical Greek alchemist and “god of secret wisdom” like Imhotep in Ancient Egypt. I think though that both are based on Hermes (the god after which Mercury was named in Greek) and Thoth (the god of wisdom and scribes in ancient Egypt). Indeed the 42 Books of Thoth seem to be ones of the most sought after items by magick believers today.

    For some reason the priests of ancient Egypt never preserved any of these purported books, and while 5000 year old writings of their religious beliefs have been unearthed, there’s no written evidence about these 42 books until the late 19th century when ancient Egypt became a fashionable thing to write about.

  49. Argyl — yes, a lot of the things held by some (not all!) neopagans to be ancient texts, rituals, beliefs, etc. are not actually ancient. If you trace them they usually go back to Robert Graves, Gerald Gardner, Madame Blavatsky, or Eliphas Levi.

    I heard somewhere (great source, that!) that there are people who think the Necronomicon was a real book. Somebody apparently put a fake ad for a copy into a bibliographic journal and was swamped with offers.

  50. Old Rockin' Dave

    You bunch of heathens! It looks like the Virgin Mary.
    The God of Justice and Mercy is going to send you all to Hell for not seeing this right off!


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