Mercury Close-up: Hovnatanian Crater (NASA, MESSENGER, 01/16/12), originally uploaded by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
Editor's note: I believe this striking crater on Mercury is named for the nineteenth century Armenian painter, Hakop Hovnatanian.
Hovnatanian crater was formed by an object that impacted at a very oblique angle, causing the crater to appear elliptical. Although impacts at most angles produce circular craters, impacts with incidence angles <15º (from the horizontal) will create elliptical craters. The rays of Hovnatanian form a "butterfly" pattern, which also indicates an oblique impact.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
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