“Han Solo” On Mercury

Han Solo on Mercury 1

The MESSENGER spacecraft has been orbiting Mercury for some time. A few weeks ago it snapped this image (left) of the northern region of the Caloris basin. A strange, elevated land formation captured at just the right angle bears a striking resemblance to the smuggler who “can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” or “is a stuck-up scruffy-looking nerf-hearder” (depending on who you ask).

Scientists think that this part of Mercury’s surface may have been part of the original terrain from before the basin was formed (most likely by a large impact event).

Seeing a familiar shape in random landforms is all in good fun, and examples of this have hit headlines other times before (think the “Face on Mars”). The official term for it is pareidolia.

Check out a similar human tendancy known as apophenia in last week’s article relating Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with “The Wizard of Oz”.