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NASA sees Han Solo on planet Mercury

  • Han Solo on Mercury 1.jpg

    Is this Han Solo? The picture on the left, returned by NASA's Messenger probe to Mercury, suggests Jabba the Hutt may have stashed his recalcitrant smuggler's carbonite-encased body on the inferno planet closest to our Sun. (NASA)

  • Han Solo on Mercury.jpg

    A rock formation on Mercury looks suprisingly like Han Solo encased in carbonite, NASA joked recently. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

A photo of the surface of the planet Mercury has set astronomers giggling with what appears to be Star Wars' hero Han Solo -- frozen in carbonite.

The picture, released by the Messenger spacecraft division of NASA, shows a formation in the terrain of the Caloris basin "in the shape of a certain carbonite-encased smuggler who can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs."

"If there are two things you should remember, it's not to cross a Hutt, and that Mercury's surface can throw up all kinds of surprises," the NASA website posted.

'[It's] in the shape of a certain carbonite-encased smuggler who can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.'

- NASA's Messenger group

The region of Mercury's surface was shaped by magma ejected during the formation of the Caloris basin. The body-shaped lumps may be remnants of what was there before.

The Messenger spacecraft is the first sent in to orbit the inferno planet closest to our Sun. During its two years of operation, it has so far taken more than 150,000 images as well as many other sensor readings.

Get more science and technology news and reviews at News.com.au.