Mercury’s crust is thinner than previously thought

Mathematical calculations have determined that Mercury’s crust is thinner than previously thought.

The small planet Mercury is the one whose orbit is closest to the Sun, so that few probes have been able to approach it.

In fact, the Mariner probes (1974-75) and Messenger (2008-15) visited this rocky planet, but only the second one has collected enough data for scientists to analyze its surface.

However, knowing what lies beneath its surface requires careful scrutiny.

Did you know?
NASA’s Messenger probe completed four years of Mercure study in May 2015 by crashing near the North Pole. It was launched in August 2004 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At the end of her 6.5-year journey, she will have traveled 7.8 billion kilometers. The mission took more than 277,000 photos of Mercury, including images with a resolution of 250 meters per pixel.

After the end of the Messenger mission, planetary scientists estimated that the Mercury crust was about 35 km thick. Information that the American planetologist Michael Sori of the University of Arizona has questioned.

Using the most recent mathematical formulas, but with the same data collected by Messenger, Michael Sori proved that the Mercury crust was 26 km and more dense than aluminum.

This estimate is consistent with the theory that the Mercury crust was formed largely by volcanic activity.

Of all terrestrial planets, Mercury has the largest nucleus in relation to its size.

Michael Sori

The core of Mercury occupies 60% of the total volume of the planet. By comparison, the Earth’s core accounts for only about 15% of its volume.

The details of his work are published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

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