(HOUSTON) — 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, however, but just three overlapping craters in Mercury’s southern hemisphere.
The look-alike picture was snapped by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft probing the planet to collect images when the sun is near the horizon. Images taken at that time help mapmakers see the planet’s small-scale surface features because of the long shadows that are created.
“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 crater configuration is on the planet’s south side, near a crater called Magritte, the space agency reports.
Messenger launched in March of last year as the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. 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.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephanie Elam, CNN
AJ Willingham, CNN
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Jamiel Lynch and Debra Goldschmidt, CNN