Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, has been shrinking. With only one giant tectonic plate, the changes over the years has caused the planet to become smaller…and it isn’t done yet. First explored by the Mariner 10 mission in the 1970s, the most recent mission by MESSENGER has revealed even more about this planet. Many questions have been asked about its geological history.
NASA has a series of articles about Mercury and the results of the MESSENGER mission. Two of the most recent posts, one from September and the other from November, states that the planet continues to change on a tectonic level. One of the biggest discouveries is that like Earth, it is an active planet, contrary to what was originally thought.
Scroll past the above article on page for the November article and more information on Mercury.
The MESSENGER mission (which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) went from August 3, 2004 to April 30, 2015. Its purpose was to study Mercury to help scientists understand not only the planet, but also the process of how planets are created. Here is the link to the MESSENGER site, including not only details about the mission, but also the TOP 10 Science and Technological Breakthroughs that resulted from this mission. One of the questions answered was whether or not the planet closest to the Sun actually has ice at its poles.
Like our explorations to Pluto and Mars, the data retrieved from the Mercury mission has helped to shed light on this little known planet.
As we learn more from missions like this, we push our boundaries and test our theories of just where we fit in the cosmos.
Now more than ever, the Star Trek tagline rings true…
….TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE.
Text © Written In Geek blog (2016) All rights reserved
Pictures © Written In Geek blog, used with subject’s permission or under public domain (2016)- feature image from NASA