While Big Bird might be feeling a bit vulnerable to winding up on a list of endangered fictional species of late, "Sesame Street" colleague Cookie Monster appears to be expanding its range by at least 48 million miles, showing up recently on Mercury.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center posted the above photo taken by the Messenger spacecraft in orbit around Mercury to its Flickr stream. To me it looks like bumps and shadows on a planet that clearly create a profile of Monsieur Monster, or, to put it in more scientific NASA terms:
...the superposition of younger craters on older craters (in this case two smaller craters upon the rim of an older crater) can result in landforms that appear to resemble more familiar shapes to human eyes.
The shot is a "targeted observation" taken at a much higher resolution than the typical 200 meters per pixel scale used to map the surface of planet. Or, in earthling terms, NASA basically zoomed in on the Cookie Monster craters to get this image.
It appears federal funding for PBS is no longer the primary political concern surrounding "Sesame Street." I, for one, want to see proof that Cookie Monster is actually from this planet and an appropriate character to be teaching our children to count. Clearly, it's time for PBS to produce Mr. Monster's long-form birth certificate.
(Via The Sesame Street Tumblr)