3D Mercury crater

By Phil Plait | December 15, 2008 9:30 am

I’m going through my list of space images taken this year to prepare for my opus Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2008 (patience: it’s coming soon). I have found some awesome shots, of course! While going through the fantastic images of tiny Mercury taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft, I found this one I hadn’t seen before: a crater anaglyph!

Beagle Rupes, a scarp cutting across a crater on Mercury.

That is too cool! Beagle Rupes is a fault scarp, a cliff created by a fault line. It cuts right across the crater Sveinsdóttir, an elongated impact probably due to a very low-angle collision by an asteroid or comet on the planet’s surface. The crater is 600 km long, which is incredible. The fault obviously happened later, splitting the crater in two.

There aren’t too many Mercury anaglyphs (unlike Mars), but just you wait until 2011, when MESSENGER settles into orbit around the solar system’s smallest planet. Then we’ll get a ton of pictures like this one, and the amount we’ll learn about Mercury will be phenomenal.


Comments (12)

  1. The image is cool, but all in all I gotta say the name is even cooler! And how did an Icelandic artist get her name on a crater? That sounds like an interesting story as well.

  2. This proves that the growth of Mercury is young compared to the impact crater. Therefore all planets are experiencing radial increase.

    On a side note, how come Mercury doesn’t crash into the Sun?

  3. Don’t people make autostereoglyphs anymore?

  4. Knurl

    I don’t think I’m going to tell my Greyhound about this. He’s rather jealous.

  5. I knew I should have pocketed those 3D glasses from the last 3D movie I saw!

  6. Charles Boyer

    Given the number of NASA anaglyphs that have been released for Mars, Mercury, etc, I went and picked up a pair of these:


    At $10 and the nominal shipping, they are a bargain, and are much more comfortable and clearer than the paper glasses.

  7. HvP

    Just another note. You can make your own side-by-side stereo pair from the anaglyph if you have a “photo shop” type of program (sorry, Windows Paint won’t work).

    You’ll need to split the RBG channels and then place the red and green channels next to each other. One way will make it stand out when you cross your eyes and the other way round will make it punch in – so experiment.

    Here’s this one:

    Here’s the Mars crater from earlier

  8. wow, I go away for a few days, come home to an ice storm and NO internet access for three days and all hell breaks loose on the solar system front!


    I have leftover stereo glasses from any number of doorprize thingies I’ve won at conferences; and I lurve these anaglyphs of other worlds!

    Keep ’em coming!

  9. HvP: They really worked for me, but the pictures were smaller (because I had to stand from afar to cross my eyes with a large enough distance). I wonder if there is a program that can take the two images of an object and convert it into the autostereograms.

  10. HvP


    I don’t know about making autostereograms, but simply placing the two halves of the picture on the opposite sides will make it possible for you to look through the picture without having to cross your eyes in the same way that you would with the type you are talking about.

    Usually, this means that the picture can be larger and you can get closer to the screen to view it. Of course, it’s harder to defocus because there is a clear picture in front of you instead of the seemingly randomness of an autostereogram.

  11. HvP: If I get closer to the screen, I have to increase the cross-eye angle, which is difficult. So I have to stand from afar (~5 dm).

  12. David

    Is it just me or is this anaglyph reversed (blue left, red right) from standard (red left, blue right)?


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