A few new maps have been released showing the nearest planet to the sun, Mercury. The new images uncover a few formations on Mercury’s surface that were not known until now. The study was distributed online in the diary Icarus.
What drew the scientists attention was that some unidentified areas of Mercury had structures that were unique in relation to the encompassing crust and are called geochemical terranes. The regions could offer a better insight on how the planet’s external cover was shaped in time. The maps were made with the help of both X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) and the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) that were set up on NASA’s MESSENGER space apparatus. It likewise examined light beams coming from the sun.
Study’s lead creator Shoshana Weider, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, reported:
“The consistency of the new XRS and GRS maps provides a new dimension to our view of Mercury’s surface. The terranes we observed had not been previously identified on the basis of spectral reflectance or geographical mapping.”
One conceivable cause is that it can be the aftereffect of an ancient collision. According to Patrick Peplowski, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and author of the study as well explained that previous MESSENGER data have demonstrated that Mercury’s surface was molded by volcanic dynamic. Talking abou the second map he further included:
“The magmas erupted long ago [and] were derived from the partial melting of Mercury’s mantle. The differences in composition that we are observing among geochemical terranes indicate that Mercury has a chemically heterogeneous mantle.”
Larry Nittler, one of the mission’s investigators who co-authored both studies explained that the outside layer of Mercury was to a great extent shaped more than 3 billion years ago. He noted :
“The remarkable chemical variability revealed by MESSENGER observations will provide critical constraints on future efforts to model and understand Mercury’s bulk composition and the ancient geological processes that shaped the planet’s mantle and crust.”
Today, NASA’s Messenger space apparatus will celebrate the end of its fourth year circling around Mercury, and in a couple of weeks the mission will end altogether.
Mercury is the smallest planet in our system and the nearest one to the Sun. It’s temperature ranges, from -280 degrees Fahrenheit during the evening to 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day implying that life, as we know it, couldn’t exist there and never will.
It is not a prime contender for a manned spacer expedition, or for a colony. However, there are some intriguing features there, one of which is ice. Only last year Messenger found proof of the presence of ice on the planet.
Mercury ‘s most decently preserved crater, the Caloris, has smooth fields made out of different compounds as compared to other landscapes on the planet. As per the scientists, this is brought about by an incomplete melting of Mercury’s mantle in the region.
Image Source: NASA