|Mickey Mouse 'Found' on Planet Mercury|
|Katie Kindelan||Jun 19, 2012, 12:56 PM|
If Mickey Mouse were to be found in outer space an obvious place to look would be Pluto.
But new photos from NASA have found a near identical rendering of the iconic Disney character on the planet Mercury.
The face and big ears are not Mickey's, just three overlapping craters in Mercury's southern hemisphere.
The look-alike picture was shot by NASA's Messenger spacecraft, currently in orbit around the solar system's innermost planet. Images taken when the sun is low on the horizon help scientists see the planet's small-scale surface features because of the long shadows.
"The shadowing helps define the striking 'Mickey Mouse' resemblance, created by the accumulation of craters over Mercury's long geologic history," says NASA in the photo description on Flickr.
The three-crater configuration is near a larger crater called Magritte, the space agency reports.
Messenger, launched in 2004 on a long orbital tour of the inner solar system, went into orbit around Mercury in 2011 after flying by in 2008. The long trip was plotted as a way to use a smaller, less expensive rocket to launch the ship from Earth. The spacecraft received a yearlong extension of its mission in order to acquire another 80,000 or so images of the planet on top of the 88,746 images it's already collected.
ABC's Ned Potter contributed to this report.