Heat Plain is the largest impact structure on Mercury

(ORDO NEWS) — About four billion years ago, the inner region of a very young solar system began to be actively cleared of the “junk” left after the formation of the parent star, planets with their satellites, and less massive bodies of various shapes and sizes.

During this period, called the Late Heavy Bombardment, a huge asteroid, similar to those that created the dark “seas” on the Moon, crashed into the planet Mercury and formed the giant basin of the Plain of Heat (lat. Caloris Planitia).

With a diameter of 1,550 kilometers, the Zhara Plain is the largest impact structure on Mercury and one of the largest in the solar system.

The interior of the Plain of Heat is riddled with high ridges and deep fissures radiating from the center.

Outside, the impact formation is surrounded by the highest mountains of the planet, towering 2-4 kilometers above the plains and many lava vents, which clearly indicate volcanic activity in the distant past.

Heat Plain is the largest impact structure on Mercury 2
View of the Plain of Heat in false colors. The images were taken by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft

If humanity had the opportunity to land a spacecraft on the Plain of Heat, get samples from a depth of several meters, and then deliver them to Earth for study, then we could probably learn about the first “days” of the existence of the solar system.

It is noteworthy that the asteroid that collided with Mercury could theoretically form long before the appearance of the solar system.

For example, the asteroid Ryugu, whose samples were brought to Earth by the Japanese spacecraft JAXA Hayabusa-2 in December 2020, turned out to be one of the oldest objects in the solar system.

The researchers, who got the opportunity to participate in the initial analysis of samples from Ryugu, do suggest that the asteroid appeared long before the birth of the Sun.

The universe is the source of an infinite number of mysteries that humanity has been working on and will continue to work on for centuries.


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