Science.gov

Sample records for mercury planet

  1. Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    Mariner 10's first image of Mercury acquired on March 24, 1974. During its flight, Mariner 10's trajectory brought it behind the lighted hemisphere of Mercury, where this image was taken, in order to acquire important measurements with other instruments.

    This picture was acquired from a distance of 3,340,000 miles (5,380,000 km) from the surface of Mercury. The diameter of Mercury (3,031 miles; 4,878 km) is about 1/3 that of Earth.

    Images of Mercury were acquired in two steps, an inbound leg (images acquired before passing into Mercury's shadow) and an outbound leg (after exiting from Mercury's shadow). More than 2300 useful images of Mercury were taken, both moderate resolution (3-20 km/pixel) color and high resolution (better than 1 km/pixel) black and white coverage.

  2. Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    Mariner 10's first image of Mercury acquired on March 24, 1974. During its flight, Mariner 10's trajectory brought it behind the lighted hemisphere of Mercury, where this image was taken, in order to acquire important measurements with other instruments. This picture was acquired from a distance of 3,340,000 miles (5,380,000 km) from the surface of Mercury. The diameter of Mercury (3,031 miles; 4,878 km) is about 1/3 that of Earth. Images of Mercury were acquired in two steps, an inbound leg (images acquired before passing into Mercury's shadow) and an outbound leg (after exiting from Mercury's shadow). More than 2300 useful images of Mercury were taken, both moderate resolution (3-20 km/pixel) color and high resolution (better than 1 km/pixel) black and white coverage.

  3. The planet Mercury (1971)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1972-01-01

    The physical properties of the planet Mercury, its surface, and atmosphere are presented for space vehicle design criteria. The mass, dimensions, mean density, and orbital and rotational motions are described. The gravity field, magnetic field, electromagnetic radiation, and charged particles in the planet's orbit are discussed. Atmospheric pressure, temperature, and composition data are given along with the surface composition, soil mechanical properties, and topography, and the surface electromagnetic and temperature properties.

  4. Mercury - the hollow planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rothery, D. A.

    2012-04-01

    Mercury is turning out to be a planet characterized by various kinds of endogenous hole (discounting impact craters), which are compared here. These include volcanic vents and collapse features on horizontal scales of tens of km, and smaller scale depressions ('hollows') associated with bright crater-floor deposits (BCFD). The BCFD hollows are tens of metres deep and kilometres or less across and are characteristically flat-floored, with steep, scalloped walls. Their form suggests that they most likely result from removal of surface material by some kind of mass-wasting process, probably associated with volume-loss caused by removal (via sublimation?) of a volatile component. These do not appear to be primarily a result of undermining. Determining the composition of the high-albedo bluish surface coating in BCFDs will be a key goal for BepiColombo instruments such as MIXS (Mercury Imaging Xray Spectrometer). In contrast, collapse features are non-circular rimless pits, typically on crater floors (pit-floor craters), whose morphology suggests collapse into void spaces left by magma withdrawal. This could be by drainage of either erupted lava (or impact melt) or of shallowly-intruded magma. Unlike the much smaller-scale BCFD hollows, these 'collapse pit' features tend to lack extensive flat floors and instead tend to be close to triangular in cross-section with inward slopes near to the critical angle of repose. The different scale and morphology of BCFD hollows and collapse pits argues for quite different modes of origin. However, BCFD hollows adjacent to and within the collapse pit inside Scarlatti crater suggest that the volatile material whose loss was responsible for the growth of the hollows may have been emplaced in association with the magma whose drainage caused the main collapse. Another kind of volcanic collapse can be seen within a 25 km-wide volcanic vent outside the southern rim of the Caloris basin (22.5° N, 146.1° E), on a 28 m/pixel MDIS NAC image

  5. Venus and Mercury as Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    A general evolutionary history of the solar planetary system is given. The previously observed characteristics of Venus and Mercury (i.e. length of day, solar orbit, temperature) are discussed. The role of the Mariner 10 space probe in gathering scientific information on the two planets is briefly described.

  6. Exploring Mercury. The iron planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Strom, Robert G.; Sprague, Ann L.

    How did Mercury get such an enormous iron core? Why is its tectonic framework so different from any other planet or satellite? What is its crystal composition? Why is the crust so depleted in iron when the interior is so rich in that element? What are the polar deposits? Where do the elements in the exosphere come from? Mercury is a planet shrouded in mystery. Only 45 percent of its surface has been seen in any detail, and that was from the Mariner 10 flyby in 1974. Yet what is known only makes the planet more fascinating. New Earth-based observations have shed light on surface and exosphere compositions, and re-evaluations of the Mariner 10 data, using modern image processing techniques, show evidence for volcanic flow fronts, pyroclastics and other volcanic phenomena not seen before. This ground-breaking book not only chronicles what has been discovered, but looks ahead to what has yet to emerge. An accompanying CD contains all the best Mariner 10 images, including the data for each image, photomosaics and maps.

  7. Thermal elastic deformations of the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Liu, H.

    1971-01-01

    The variation in solar heating due to the resonance rotation of Mercury produces periodic elastic deformations on the surface of the planet. The thermal stress and strain fields under Mercury's surface are calculated after certain simplifications. It is shown that deformations penetrate to a greater depth than the variation of solar heating, and that the thermal strain on the surface of the planet pulsates with an amplitude of 0.004 and a period of 176 days.

  8. Thermal elastic deformations of the planet Mercury.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Liu, H.-S.

    1972-01-01

    The variation in solar heating due to the resonance rotation of Mercury produces periodic elastic deformations on the surface of the planet. The thermal stress and strain fields under Mercury's surface are calculated after certain simplifications. It is found that deformations penetrate to a greater depth than the variation of solar heating, and that the thermal strain on the surface of the planet pulsates with an amplitude of .004 and a period of 176 days.

  9. Theory of Rotation for the Planet Mercury.

    PubMed

    Liu, H S; O'keefe, J A

    1965-12-24

    The theory of the rotation of the planet Mercury is developed in terms of the motion of a rigid system in an inverse-square field. It is possible for Mercury to rotate with a period exactly two-thirds of the period of revolution; there is a libration with a period of 25 years. PMID:17768871

  10. Mercury: Exploration of a Planet

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1976-01-01

    The flight of the Mariner 10 spacecraft to Venus and Mercury is detailed in animation and photography. Views of Mercury are featured. Also included is animation on the origin of the solar system. Dr. Bruce C. Murray, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, comments on the mission.

  11. Physical properties of the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Clark, Pamela E.

    1988-01-01

    The global physical properties of Mercury are summarized with attention given to its figure and orbital parameters. The combination of properties suggests that Mercury has an extensive iron-rich core, possibly with a still-functioning dynamo, which is 42 percent of the interior by volume. Mercury's three major axes are comparable in size, indicating that the planet is a triaxial ellipsoid rather than an oblate spheroid. In terms of the domination of its surface by an intermediate plains terrane, it is more Venus- or Mars-like; however, due to the presence of a large metallic magnetic core, its interior may be more earth-like.

  12. Rotation of the planet mercury.

    PubMed

    Jefferys, W H

    1966-04-01

    The equations of motion for the rotation of Mercury are solved for the general case by an asymptotic expansion. The findings of Liu and O'Keefe, obtained by numerical integration of a special case, that it is possible for Mercury's rotation to be locked into a 2:3 resonance with its revolution, are confirmed in detail. The general solution has further applications. PMID:17741632

  13. Sputtering of sodium on the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Mcgrath, M. A.; Johnson, R. E.; Lanzerotti, L. J.

    1986-01-01

    It is shown here that ion sputtering cannot account for the observed neutral sodium vapor column density on Mercury, but that it is an important loss mechanism for Na. Photons are likely to be the dominant stimulus, both directly through photodesorption and indirectly through thermal desorption of absorbed Na. It is concluded that the atmosphere produced is characterized by the planet's surface temperature, with the ion-sputtered Na contributing to a lesser, but more extended, component of the atmosphere.

  14. Earth-type planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Marov, M. Y.; Davydov, V. D.

    1975-01-01

    Spacecraft- and Earth-based studies on the physical nature of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars are reported. Charts and graphs are presented on planetary surface properties, rotational parameters, atmospheric compositions, and astronomical characteristics.

  15. Earthlike planets: Surfaces of Mercury, Venus, earth, moon, Mars

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, B.; Malin, M. C.; Greeley, R.

    1981-01-01

    The surfaces of the earth and the other terrestrial planets of the inner solar system are reviewed in light of the results of recent planetary explorations. Past and current views of the origin of the earth, moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are discussed, and the surface features characteristic of the moon, Mercury, Mars and Venus are outlined. Mechanisms for the modification of planetary surfaces by external factors and from within the planet are examined, including surface cycles, meteoritic impact, gravity, wind, plate tectonics, volcanism and crustal deformation. The origin and evolution of the moon are discussed on the basis of the Apollo results, and current knowledge of Mercury and Mars is examined in detail. Finally, the middle periods in the history of the terrestrial planets are compared, and future prospects for the exploration of the inner planets as well as other rocky bodies in the solar system are discussed.

  16. Mercury Mapper: First Look at the Innermost Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hirshon, B.

    2012-12-01

    Until very recently little has been known about the planet Mercury, despite its relative proximity to Earth. Mercury is difficult to observe from Earth, because it is so small and so close to the sun, and only one spacecraft had visited the planet: Mariner 10, in the mid 1970s. But now, the MESSENGER spacecraft is in orbit around Mercury, sending back high-resolution images of virtually the entire planetary surface. This provides a rare opportunity for public engagement in the exploration of a new world—a chance for non-scientists to help scientists locate, measure and describe terrain never before seen. Mercury Mapper, designed by CosmoQuest, will provide the training and toolkit needed to accomplish the task. Using thousands of images selected by the MESSENGER science team, Mercury Mapper will guide citizen scientists through the process of finding, categorizing and measuring key topographic features of interest to researchers. Mercury Mapper users will in many cases be the first people to examine these features. In this session, members of the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach team along with CosmoQuest designers involved in developing Mercury Mapper will share the many considerations and tradeoffs involved in creating a fun environment for engaging the public while also serving the interests of scientists performing original research.; ;

  17. Surface history of Mercury - Implications for terrestrial planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, B. C.; Strom, R. G.; Trask, N. J.; Gault, D. E.

    1975-01-01

    A plausible surface history of Mercury is presented which is suggested by Mariner 10 television pictures. Five periods are postulated which are delineated by successive variations in the modification of the surface by external and internal processes: accretion and differentiation, terminal heavy bombardment, formation of the Caloris basin, flooding of that basin and other areas, and light cratering accumulated on the smooth plains. Each period is described in detail; the overall history is compared with the surface histories of Venus, Mars, and the moon; and the implications of this history for earth are discussed. It is tentatively concluded that: Mercury is a differentiated planet most likely composed of a large iron core enclosed by a relatively thin silicate layer; heavy surface bombardment occurred about four billion years ago, which probably affected all the inner planets, and was followed by a period of volcanic activity; no surface modifications caused by tectonic, volcanic, or atmospheric processes took place after the volcanic period.

  18. Reference surfaces of the planet Mercury from MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Karimi, Roohollah; Ardalan, Alireza A.; Farahani, Soheil Vasheghani

    2016-01-01

    The aim of this work is to study the reference surfaces of the planet Mercury obtained by the MESSENGER mission in order to provide a geodetic reference system (GRS) for the planet. The reference surfaces under consideration are the geoid and the reference ellipsoid. The reference ellipsoid is a triaxial planetocentric equipotential ellipsoid that best fits the geoid. To determine the reference surfaces, two methods are presented. In this line, the shape of the planet is sampled by expanding the global shape model (GSM) GTMES_125V03_SHA only up to the degree strength of the global gravity model (GGM) GGMES_50V06_SHA. The spatial resolution of the sampling points is selected based on the degree strength and the latitude of the location. According to our preferred method, we estimate the values for the semi-major equatorial axis, semi-minor equatorial axis, and polar axis of the reference ellipsoid equal to 2, 439, 422 ± 368m , 2, 439, 304 ± 368m , and 2, 439, 178 ± 368m , respectively. Moreover, we estimate the geoid potential value equal to 9, 032, 044 ± 1361m2 /s2 . The three axes of the reference ellipsoid give the polar and equatorial flattenings equal to (100 ± 213) ×10-6 and (48 ± 213) ×10-6 , respectively. However, we show that the best-fitting ellipsoid gives the polar and equatorial flattenings equal to (896 ± 213) ×10-6 and (426 ± 213) ×10-6 , respectively. The best-fitting ellipsoid is a triaxial ellipsoid that fits the shape of Mercury in a least-squares sense. The significant discrepancy observed between the flattenings of the two ellipsoids is a consequence of Mercury's geophysical characteristics together with its non-hydrostatic equilibrium. The results provided in the present work prove adequate for defining a promised GRS for the planet Mercury.

  19. Planet Mercury Conference, Tucson, AZ, Aug. 6-9, 1986, Proceedings

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1987-09-01

    The present conference discusses the mass, gravity field, and ephemeris of the planet Mercury, the vulcanoid hypothesis for the chronology of Mercury's geological and geophysical evolution, the Mercurian crater-filling classes that constrain the intercrater plains material emplacement process, and the wavelength and longitude dependence of Mercury polarization. Also discussed are an analysis of the Mariner 10 color radio map of Mercury, Mercury's magnetosphere, exosphere, and surface, the dynamics of electrons and heavy ions in the Mercury magnetosphere, electron measurements and substorm time scales in the Mercury and earth magnetospheres, Mercury's sodium variations with solar radiation pressure, and appulses and occultations of SAO stars by Mercury in the 1987-1995 period.

  20. Intrinsic Magnetic Fields of the Planets: Mercury to Neptune

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ness, Norman F.

    1994-11-01

    In the past three decades, studies of the magnetic fields of Earth's Moon and all the planets, except for Pluto, have been conducted by spacecraft of the U.S.A. and of Venus and Mars by the former U.S.S.R. Among the terrestrial planets, only Mercury (Mariner 10: 1974 and 1975) is globally magnetized while the Moon and Venus are unmagnetized. The situation at Mars is still unclear, but if any global field exists, it is quite small. In 1979, Pioneer 11 discovered a magnetic field and radiation belt at Saturn, further elaborated on by Voyagers 1 (1980) and 2 (1981). Pioneers 10 (1974) and 11 (1975) and Voyagers 1 (1979) and 2 (1979) examined in detail the magnetic field of Jupiter, which had been inferred initially and studied remotely due to its non-thermal radio emissions in the late 1950s. Jupiter's magnetic field is much stronger than Earth's and distinctly non-dipolar close to the planet. Saturn has a much weaker field than Jupiter, and it is surprisingly axisymmetric (to degree n = 3) with respect to its rotation axis. The Voyager fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and 1989 discovered global magnetic fields and trapped energetic particle radiation belts. Both Uranus and Neptune display remarkably similar magnetic fields (quite different from Jupiter, Saturn and Earth). In an astrophysical sense, Uranus and Neptune are described as oblique rotators because of the large angular offset of their magnetic axes from their rotation axes (59 degrees and 47 degrees). Additionally, their magnetic `centres' are displaced by substantial fractions of a planetary radius (0.31 RU and 0.55 RN). This paper summarizes our present knowledge of the quantitative characteristics of the magnetic fields of these planets.

  1. Observations at the planet Mercury by the plasma electron experiment, Mariner 10

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ogilvie, K. W.; Scudder, J. D.; Vasyliunas, V. M.; Hartle, R. E.; Siscoe, G. L.

    1976-01-01

    Plasma electron observations made onboard Mariner 10 are reported. Three encounters with the planet Mercury show that the planet interacts with the solar wind to form a bow shock and a permanent magnetosphere. The observations provide a determination of the dimensions and properties of the magnetosphere, independently of and in general agreement with magnetometer observations. The magnetosphere of Mercury appears to be similar in shape to that of the Earth but much smaller in relation to the size of the planet. Electron populations similar to those found in the Earth's magnetotail, within the plasma sheet and adjacent regions, were observed at Mercury; both their spatial location and the electron energy spectra within them bear qualitative and quantitative resemblance to corresponding observations at the Earth. The magnetosphere of Mercury resembles to a marked degree a reduced version of that of the Earth, with no significant differences of structure.

  2. Circular polarization of light by planet Mercury and enantiomorphism of its surface minerals.

    PubMed

    Meierhenrich, Uwe J; Thiemann, Wolfram H P; Barbier, Bernard; Brack, André; Alcaraz, Christian; Nahon, Laurent; Wolstencroft, Ray

    2002-04-01

    Different mechanisms for the generation of circular polarization by the surface of planets and satellites are described. The observed values for Venus, the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter obtained by photo-polarimetric measurements with Earth based telescopes, showed accordance with theory. However, for planet Mercury asymmetric parameters in the circular polarization were measured that do not fit with calculations. For BepiColombo, the ESA cornerstone mission 5 to Mercury, we propose to investigate this phenomenon using a concept which includes two instruments. The first instrument is a high-resolution optical polarimeter, capable to determine and map the circular polarization by remote scanning of Mercury's surface from the Mercury Planetary Orbiter MPO. The second instrument is an in situ sensor for the detection of the enantiomorphism of surface crystals and minerals, proposed to be included in the Mercury Lander MSE. PMID:12185675

  3. MESSENGER, MErcury: Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging; A Mission to Orbit and Explore the Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1999-01-01

    MESSENGER is a scientific mission to Mercury. Understanding this extraordinary planet and the forces that have shaped it is fundamental to understanding the processes that have governed the formation, evolution, and dynamics of the terrestrial planets. MESSENGER is a MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging mission to orbit Mercury for one Earth year after completing two flybys of that planet following two flybys of Venus. The necessary flybys return significant new data early in the mission, while the orbital phase, guided by the flyby data, enables a focused scientific investigation of this least-studied terrestrial planet. Answers to key questions about Mercury's high density, crustal composition and structure, volcanic history, core structure, magnetic field generation, polar deposits, exosphere, overall volatile inventory, and magnetosphere are provided by an optimized set of miniaturized space instruments. Our goal is to gain new insight into the formation and evolution of the solar system, including Earth. By traveling to the inner edge of the solar system and exploring a poorly known world, MESSENGER fulfills this quest.

  4. Imaging the Sources and Full Extent of the Sodium Tail of the Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Baumgardner, Jeffrey; Wilson, Jody; Mendillo, Michael

    2008-01-01

    Observations of sodium emission from Mercury can be used to describe the spatial and temporal patterns of sources and sinks in the planet s surface-boundary-exosphere. We report on new data sets that provide the highest spatial resolution of source regions at polar latitudes, as well as the extraordinary length of a tail of escaping Na atoms. The tail s extent of approx.1.5 degrees (nearly 1400 Mercury radii) is driven by radiation pressure effects upon Na atoms sputtered from the surface in the previous approx.5 hours. Wide-angle filtered-imaging instruments are thus capable of studying the time history of sputtering processes of sodium and other species at Mercury from ground-based observatories in concert with upcoming satellite missions to the planet. Plasma tails produced by photo-ionization of Na and other gases in Mercury s neutral tails may be observable by in-situ instruments.

  5. Rotation of mercury: theoretical analysis of the dynamics of a rigid ellipsoidal planet.

    PubMed

    Laslett, L J; Sessler, A M

    1966-03-18

    The second-order nonlinear differential equation for the rotation of Mercury implies locked-in motion when the period is within the range where e is the eccentricity and T is the period of Mercury's orbit, the time t is measured from perihelion, and lambda is a measure of the planet's disiortion. For values near 2T/3, the instantaneous period oscillates about 2T/3 with period (21lambdae/2)T. PMID:17817300

  6. Radio-interferometric imaging of the subsurface emissions from the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Burns, J. O.; Zeilik, M.; Gisler, G. R.; Borovsky, J. E.; Baker, D. N.

    1987-01-01

    The distribution of total and polarized intensities from Mercury's subsurface layers have been mapped using VLA observations. The first detection of a hot pole along the Hermean equator is reported and modeled as black-body reradiation from preferential diurnal heating. These observations appear to rule out any internal sources of heat within Mercury. Polarized emission from the limb of the planet is also found, and is understood in terms of the dielectric properties of the Hermean surface.

  7. Observations at the planet Mercury by the plasma electron experiment - Mariner 10

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ogilvie, K. W.; Scudder, J. D.; Vasyliunas, V. M.; Hartle, R. E.; Siscoe, G. L.

    1977-01-01

    Two nightside encounters with Mercury's magnetosphere by Mariner 10 revealed bow shock and magnetosheath signatures in the plasma electron data that are entirely consistent with the geometry expected for an interaction between a planet-centered magnetic dipole and the solar wind. The geometrically determined distance between the planet's center and the solar wind stagnation point is 1.4 plus or minus 0.1 R sub M. Both diffuse and sharp shock crossings were observed on the two magnetosphere encounters.

  8. IAU nomenclature for albedo features on the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dollfus, A.; Chapman, C. R.; Davies, M. E.; Gingerich, O.; Goldstein, R.; Guest, J.; Morrison, D.; Smith, B. A.

    1978-01-01

    The International Astronomical Union has endorsed a nomenclature for the albedo features on Mercury. Designations are based upon the mythological names related to the god Hermes; they are expressed in Latin form. The dark-hued albedo features are associated with the generic term Solitudo. The light-hued areas are designated by a single name without generic term. The 32 names adopted are allocated on the Mercury map.

  9. Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Taylor, G. J.; Scott, E. R. D.

    2003-12-01

    Mercury is an important part of the solar system puzzle, yet we know less about it than any other planet, except Pluto. Mercury is the smallest of the terrestrial planets (0.05 Earth masses) and the closest to the Sun. Its relatively high density (5.4 g cm -3) indicates that it has a large metallic core (˜3/4 of the planet's radius) compared to its silicate mantle and crust. The existence of a magnetic field implies that the metallic core is still partly molten. The surface is heavily cratered like the highlands of the Moon, but some areas are smooth and less cratered, possibly like the lunar maria (but not as dark). Its surface composition, as explained in the next section, appears to be low in FeO (only ˜3 wt.%), which implies that either its crust is anorthositic (Jeanloz et al., 1995) or its mantle is similarly low in FeO ( Robinson and Taylor, 2001).The proximity of Mercury to the Sun is particularly important. In one somewhat outmoded view of how the solar system formed, Mercury was assembled in the hottest region close to the Sun so that virtually all of the iron was in the metallic state, rather than oxidized to FeO (e.g., Lewis, 1972, 1974). If correct, Mercury ought to have relatively a low content of FeO. This hypothesis also predicts that Mercury should have high concentrations of refractory elements, such as calcium, aluminum, and thorium, and low concentrations of volatile elements, such as sodium and potassium, compared to the other terrestrial planets.Alternative hypotheses tell a much more nomadic and dramatic story of Mercury's birth. In one alternative view, wandering planetesimals that might have come from as far away as Mars or the inner asteroid belt accreted to form Mercury (Wetherill, 1994). This model predicts higher FeO and volatile elements than does the high-temperature model, and similar compositions among the terrestrial planets. The accretion process might have been accompanied by a monumental impact that stripped away much of the

  10. The use of radar and visual observations to characterize the surface structure of the planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Clark, P. E.; Kobrick, M.; Jurgens, R. F.

    1985-01-01

    An analysis is conducted of available topographic profiles and scattering parameters derived from earth-based S- and X-band radar observations of Mercury, in order to determine the nature and origin of regional surface variations and structures that are typical of the planet. Attention is given to the proposal that intercrater plains on Mercury formed from extensive volcanic flooding during bombardment, so that most craters were formed on a partially molten surface and were thus obliterated, together with previously formed tectonic features.

  11. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Thermal models of Mercury. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Recent and more complex thermal models of Mercury and the terrestrial planets are discussed or noted. These models isolate a particular aspect of the planet's thermal history in an attempt to understand that parameter. Among these topics are thermal conductivity, convection, radiogenic sources of heat, other heat sources, and the problem of the molten core and regenerative dynamo.

  12. Exo-Mercury Analogues and the Roche Limit for Close-Orbiting Rocky Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rogers, Leslie A.; Price, Ellen

    2015-12-01

    The origin of Mercury's enhanced iron content is a matter of ongoing debate. The characterization of rocky exoplanets promises to provide new independent insights on this topic, by constraining the occurrence rate and physical and orbital properties of iron-enhanced planets orbiting distant stars. The ultra-short-period transiting planet candidate KOI-1843.03 (0.6 Earth-radius, 4.245 hour orbital period, 0.46 Solar-mass host star) represents the first exo-Mercury planet candidate ever identified. For KOI-1843.03 to have avoided tidal disruption on such a short orbit, Rappaport et al. (2013) estimate that it must have a mean density of at least 7g/cc and be at least as iron rich as Mercury. This density lower-limit, however, relies upon interpolating the Roche limits of single-component polytrope models, which do not accurately capture the density profiles of >1000 km differentiated rocky bodies. A more exact calculation of the Roche limit for the case of rocky planets of arbitrary composition and central concentration is needed. We present 3D interior structure simulations of ultra-short-period tidally distorted rocky exoplanets, calculated using a modified version of Hachisu’s self-consistent field method and realistic equations of state for silicates and iron. We derive the Roche limits of rocky planets as a function of mass and composition, and refine the composition constraints on KOI-1843.03. We conclude by discussing the implications of our simulations for the eventual characterization of short-period transiting planets discovered by K2, TESS, CHEOPS and PLATO.

  13. Mercury: Informing Remote Sensing through Petrology in the Absence of Samples from the Innermost Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McCoy, T. J.; Nittler, L. R.; Stockstill-Cahill, K.; Blewett, D. T.

    2012-12-01

    Remote sensing missions and petrologic studies are complementary methods of understanding airless planetary bodies. For bodies with both orbital missions and samples available for laboratory study, missions provide global chemical, mineralogical, and geologic data sets and context for samples, whereas samples often provide complementary petrogenetic histories in a chronological framework. In contrast, although the wealth of orbital data from MESSENGER is not complemented by samples from Mercury, petrologic and experimental studies remain essential to understanding the innermost planet. Prior to MESSENGER, most models centered on high-temperature events and formation under highly reducing conditions to explain Mercury's high metal to silicate ratio. These models predicted enrichment in refractory elements and depletion in volatile elements. The inference of formation at highly reducing conditions is supported by MESSENGER results. The low FeO concentration in the crust, implied low FeO contents of the mantle, apparent efficient partitioning of iron into the core, and evidence for Ca- and/or Mg-sulfides from X-Ray Spectrometer data are all consistent with reducing conditions. In contrast, the suggestion that Mercury is highly volatile-depleted has been refuted. Direct evidence for a relatively volatile-rich planet come from Na, K, and S abundances measured on the surface with MESSENGER's XRS and Gamma-Ray Spectrometer and the presence of neutral and ionized Na, K, and S species in the exosphere. Indirect evidence for volatile-rich compositions include the suggestion of volcanic vents with associated mantling pyroclastic deposits, hollows inferred to form by geologically recent volatile loss, and an inferred interior structure that includes a solid iron sulfide layer at the top of Mercury's fluid core. Petrologic and experimental studies of meteorites have played a key role in deciphering orbital data from MESSENGER. Partial melts from an enstatite chondrite

  14. Dating tectonic structures on Mercury: new clues to understand the planet's thermal evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Giacomini, Lorenza; Massironi, Matteo; Marchi, Simone; Fassett, Caleb I.; Di Achille, Gaetano; Cremonese, Gabriele

    2014-05-01

    The global tectonic scenario of Mercury is dominated by contractional features mainly represented by lobate scarps and related to planetary cooling (Watters et al., 1998, Geology, 26, 991-994). Topography of lobate scarps on Mercury: New constraints on the planet's contraction. These structures are the expression of surface-breaking thrust faults and are linear or arcuate features widely distributed on Mercury. Since they display a broad distribution of orientations, lobate scarps are thought to be related to a global contractional strain. The MESSENGER MDIS camera (with a wide-angle and a narrow-angle channels), acquired images of new regions of the Mercury surface that allowed us to detect several new lobate scarps especially where the illumination geometry is more favorable for structural analysis. Among them a 2000-km long thrust system, located between 80° and 100°E of longitude, has been detected. This system consists of several lobate scarps all exhibiting a N-S orientation and a westward vergence. Due to its considerable extension, this feature can give clues to the stress field affecting the surface in a wide sector of the planet. Dating these features and comparing the results with independent age determinations, and structural and stratigraphic evidences might concur to further constrain the age of tectonic deformation on Mercury and possibly increase our knowledge on the thermal evolution of the planet. The dating of the system was performed with different methods. Indeed, traditional stratigraphic study was accompanied by crater counts of geological units overlapping the thrust and the buffered crater counting technique, allowing us to determine an absolute model age determination for the tectonic feature. The employment of these different methods gave consistent results suggesting that thrust activity ended between 3.7-3.8 Ga, with Neukum Production Function (NPF), and 3.5-3.7 Ga, with Model Production Function (MPF), respectively.

  15. Radioactive elements on Mercury's surface from MESSENGER: implications for the planet's formation and evolution.

    PubMed

    Peplowski, Patrick N; Evans, Larry G; Hauck, Steven A; McCoy, Timothy J; Boynton, William V; Gillis-Davis, Jeffery J; Ebel, Denton S; Goldsten, John O; Hamara, David K; Lawrence, David J; McNutt, Ralph L; Nittler, Larry R; Solomon, Sean C; Rhodes, Edgar A; Sprague, Ann L; Starr, Richard D; Stockstill-Cahill, Karen R

    2011-09-30

    The MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer measured the average surface abundances of the radioactive elements potassium (K, 1150 ± 220 parts per million), thorium (Th, 220 ± 60 parts per billion), and uranium (U, 90 ± 20 parts per billion) in Mercury's northern hemisphere. The abundance of the moderately volatile element K, relative to Th and U, is inconsistent with physical models for the formation of Mercury requiring extreme heating of the planet or its precursor materials, and supports formation from volatile-containing material comparable to chondritic meteorites. Abundances of K, Th, and U indicate that internal heat production has declined substantially since Mercury's formation, consistent with widespread volcanism shortly after the end of late heavy bombardment 3.8 billion years ago and limited, isolated volcanic activity since. PMID:21960624

  16. Calculating the X-Ray Fluorescence from the Planet Mercury Due to High-Energy Electrons

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Burbine, T. H.; Trombka, J. I.; Bergstrom, P. M., Jr.; Christon, S. P.

    2005-01-01

    The least-studied terrestrial planet is Mercury due to its proximity to the Sun, which makes telescopic observations and spacecraft encounters difficult. Our lack of knowledge about Mercury should change in the near future due to the recent launching of MESSENGER, a Mercury orbiter. Another mission (BepiColombo) is currently being planned. The x-ray spectrometer on MESSENGER (and planned for BepiColombo) can characterize the elemental composition of a planetary surface by measuring emitted fluorescent x-rays. If electrons are ejected from an atom s inner shell by interaction with energetic particles such as photons, electrons, or ions, electrons from an outer shell can transfer to the inner shell. Characteristic x-rays are then emitted with energies that are the difference between the binding energy of the ion in its excited state and that of the ion in its ground state. Because each element has a unique set of energy levels, each element emits x-rays at a unique set of energies. Electrons and ions usually do not have the needed flux at high energies to cause significant x-ray fluorescence on most planetary bodies. This is not the case for Mercury where high-energy particles were detected during the Mariner 10 flybys. Mercury has an intrinsic magnetic field that deflects the solar wind, resulting in a bow shock in the solar wind and a magnetospheric cavity. Electrons and ions accelerated in the magnetosphere tend to follow its magnetic field lines and can impact the surface on Mercury s dark side Modeling has been done to determine if x-ray fluorescence resulting from the impact of high-energy electrons accelerated in Mercury's magnetosphere can be detected by MESSENGER. Our goal is to understand how much bulk chemical information can be obtained from x-ray fluorescence measurements on the dark side of Mercury.

  17. Compact, Passively Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser for the MESSENGER Mission to the Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Krebs, Danny J.; Novo-Gradac, Anne-Marie; Li, Steven X.; Lindauer, Steven J.; Afzal, Robert S.; Yu, Antony

    2004-01-01

    A compact, passively Q-switched Nd:YAG laser has been developed for the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instrument which is an instrument on the MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury. The laser achieves 5.4 percent efficiency with a near diffraction limited beam. It has passed all space flight environmental tests at system, instrument, and satellite integration. The laser design draws on a heritage of previous laser altimetry missions, specifically ISESAT and Mars Global Surveyor; but incorporates thermal management features unique to the requirements of an orbit of the planet Mercury.

  18. Mercury's place among the terrestrial planets: Summary on what can be measured from ground

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Warell, J.

    Close-range measurements during the multiple flybys of Mariner 10 past Mercury in 1974-1975 provided us with the bulk of information currently available on its physical properties. Understanding of its geology and evolution took a quantum leap, yet numerous questions were left unanswered and new questions were opened up regarding processes that shaped its appearance as observed today. Two main shortages in the Mariner 10 data set with respect to this understanding pertains to Mercury's crust: imaging coverage was less than half of its surface, and spectrometers for compositional determinations were unavailable. Since then, and particularly during the past decade or two, ground-based studies have provided a wealth of new information that aid in understanding the chemical and microphysical properties of its regolith. These include spectroscopy, imaging, photometry and polarimetry at visual, near infrared, thermal infrared and radar wavelengths. Modeling of these data sets, laboratory studies, and comparative planetological interpretations of its remotely-sensed properties to those of the Moon and other atmosphereless bodies in the inner solar system, has clarified many issues and revealed unexpected facets of this extreme end-member planet. These include the discovery of volatiles at the planet's poles, new atomic species in the exosphere, the realisation of the apparent similaries of the Mariner 10 and poorly known hemispheres, confirmation that the surface mineralogy is likely heterogeneous and dominated by intermediate feldspars with minor low-iron pyroxenes, very iron-poor and very strongly matured. Due to Mercury's location close to the Sun, the large mass of exogenically contributed chondritic and volatile-rich material since the solidification of its crust, may be of greater importance for the interpretation of the surface and bulk properties than those of any other body, and accentuates that this planet in many ways is drastically different from the

  19. The role of impact structures in localizing explosive volcanism on a contracting planet: Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomas, R. J.; Rothery, D. A.; Conway, S. J.; Anand, M.

    2015-10-01

    A long history of global contraction on Mercury is attested to by thousands of ridges and scarps, thought to be the surface expression of thrust faults[1]. The resulting compressive crustal stress presents an obstacle to surface volcanism on the planet, inhibiting magma ascent from depth. Nevertheless, volcanic vents and deposits indicate that explosive volcanism persisted on the planet until as recently as 1 Ga[2]. The common localization of this volcanism within impact craters and inwards of the rims of large impact basins [3]indicates that impact structures play a role in allowing volcanic eruption on this contracting body.By making a comparison with explosive volcanism within impact craters on the Moon, we investigate how ascending magma and impact structures interact on a local scale to facilitate such eruptions on Mercury. Additionally, in light of the surprisingly low number of large impact basins on Mercury[4], we investigate whether the detection of clusters of sites of explosive volcanism can provide evidence for the location of ancient impact basins that are no longer detectable morphologically.

  20. Dating thrust systems on Mercury: new clues on the thermal evolution of the planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Giacomini, Lorenza; Massironi, Matteo; Ferrari, Sabrina; Zagato, Nicola

    2016-04-01

    The global tectonic scenario of Mercury is dominated by contractional features mainly represented by lobate scarps. These structures are the expression of surface-breaking thrust faults and are linear or arcuate features widely distributed on Mercury. Since they display a broad distribution of orientations, lobate scarps are thought to be related to a global contractional strain, associated to planetary cooling (Watters et al., 1998, Geology, 26, 991-994). The age determination of these features will contribute to better constrain whether limits could be placed on when the contraction occurred. For these reasons we dated two thrust systems, located in different regions of Mercury. The first system is located at the edge between Kuiper and Beethoven quadrangle (latitude 9°20'N-23°42'S and longitude 72°73'-59°52'W). These 1500-long thrust system is constituted by several lobate scarps with a NNE-SSW orientation. The second thrust system considered in this work is the Enterprise Rupes, a 820 km-long scarp system that cuts the Rembrandt basin. We dated the activity of these systems through the buffered crater counting technique, which is used to derive absolute model ages of linear landforms (e.g. Fassett and Head, 2008, Icarus, 198, 37-56; Giacomini, et al, 2015, GSL, 401, 291-311). The results gave comparable ages for the two systems and suggest that the activity along major rupes all around planet Mercury have most probably begun before 3.5 Ga. This will give us new clues to better understanding the thermal evolution of the planet.

  1. Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gault, D. E.; Burns, J. A.; Cassen, P.; Strom, R. G.

    1977-01-01

    Prior to the flight of the Mariner 10 spacecraft, Mercury was the least investigated and most poorly known terrestrial planet (Kuiper 1970, Devine 1972). Observational difficulties caused by its proximity to the Sun as viewed from Earth caused the planet to remain a small, vague disk exhibiting little surface contrast or details, an object for which only three major facts were known: 1. its bulk density is similar to that of Venus and Earth, much greater than that of Mars and the Moon; 2. its surface reflects electromagnetic radiation at all wavelengths in the same manner as the Moon (taking into account differences in their solar distances); and 3. its rotation period is in 2/3 resonance with its orbital period. Images obtained during the flyby by Mariner 10 on 29 March 1974 (and the two subsequent flybys on 21 September 1974 and 16 March 1975) revealed Mercury's surface in detail equivalent to that available for the Moon during the early 1960's from Earth-based telescopic views. Additionally, however, information was obtained on the planet's mass and size, atmospheric composition and density, charged-particle environment, and infrared thermal radiation from the surface, and most significantly of all, the existence of a planetary magnetic field that is probably intrinsic to Mercury was established. In the following, this new information is summarized together with results from theoretical studies and ground-based observations. In the quantum jumps of knowledge that have been characteristic of "space-age" exploration, the previously obscure body of Mercury has suddenly come into sharp focus. It is very likely a differentiated body, probably contains a large Earth-like iron-rich core, and displays a surface remarkably similar to that of the Moon, which suggests a similar evolutionary history.

  2. Flood volcanism on a contracting planet: Insights from Mercury and the Moon

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Klimczak, C.; Byrne, P. K.; Solomon, S. C.

    2013-12-01

    Tectonic and volcanic processes on one-plate planets are closely tied to the thermal evolution of their interiors. Thermal history models for both the Moon and Mercury predict that after an initial heating phase, the interiors of these bodies began to cool. Such an evolution may have been accompanied by an initial period of planetary expansion, but much of the thermal history was marked by sustained global contraction. A global state of expansion generates a stress state characterized by horizontal extension within the brittle portion of the lithosphere, allowing for upward propagation of magma-filled dikes and widespread volcanic flooding. Global contraction, in contrast, imposes a horizontally compressive stress state on the lithosphere, under which magma ascent through vertical conduits is suppressed and widespread thrust faulting is favored. Both the Moon and Mercury host populations of thrust-fault-related landforms that are interpreted to have accommodated shortening induced by global contraction, but each body also shows evidence for widespread flood volcanism. On the Moon, gravitational signatures suggestive of ancient, buried dikes; large expanses of lunar mare deposits of volcanic origin; and a widely distributed population of extensional graben generally predate the formation of thrust-fault-related landforms that accommodated surface strains due to global contraction. For Mercury, geological evidence suggests that the great number of large thrust faults that accommodated the planet's decrease in planetary radius (~5-7 km) began to form prior to the cessation of the last major episode of volcanic flooding. Such a temporal overlap of flood volcanism and large-scale thrust faulting poses a challenge. Magmatism in a lithosphere dominated by global contraction should be limited to sill intrusions near the depth of the brittle-ductile transition, so widespread volcanism should be precluded. Localized volcanic flooding might nonetheless be triggered by large

  3. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Areal measurement of Mercury's first quadrant. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Various linear and areal measurements of Mercury's first quadrant which were used in geological map preparation, map analysis, and statistical surveys of crater densities are discussed. Accuracy of each method rests on the determination of the scale of the photograph, i.e., the conversion factor between distances on the planet (in km) and distances on the photograph (in cm). Measurement errors arise due to uncertainty in Mercury's radius, poor resolution, poor coverage, high Sun angle illumination in the limb regions, planetary curvature, limited precision in measuring instruments, and inaccuracies in the printed map scales. Estimates are given for these errors.

  4. Exploring the Solar System: Ice Hunters, Mercury Zoo, and Planet Investigators

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gay, P. L.; Lehan, C.; Conti, A.; Deustua, S.; Mutchler, M.; Wong, M.; Higgins, J.; Buie, M. W.; Spencer, J.; Robbins, S.; Chapman, C.; Hirshon, R.; Lerner, T.

    2011-10-01

    A new suite of citizen science software, "Community Science Builder" (CSB) has been created to facilitate exploration and annotation of space images. First launched as the backbone of "Ice Hunters," this software is designed to facilitate planetary science that requires images to be annotated by users. Initial features include: marking objects with a set of predefined markers and an administration dashboard for expert review of incoming annotations. Beginning with the release of "Planet Investigators" and "Mercury Zoo" in late 2011, CSB will also allow moving objects to be matched between frames, linear features to be traced, and interesting features to be annotated with flags and comments. In this paper we discuss upcoming projects, and the software's features and flexibility for generating science.

  5. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Thermal histories of Mercury and the Moon. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    To determine a planet's thermal history, a wide range of data is necessary. These data include remote sensing results, photogeologic evidence, magnetic field and remanent magnetization data, composition and ages of samples, and physical parameters of the planet and its orbit. Few of these data form unambiguous constraints for thermal models of Mercury. Igneous Chronology as the time history of the differentiation and igneous activity, is defined. Igneous Chronology is used here in the sense of the apparent igneous or relative chronology of geologic events, such as plains formation (through whatever mechanism) relative to the crater production and tectonic history (lineament and scarp formation).

  6. Mercury-T: A new code to study tidally evolving multi-planet systems. Applications to Kepler-62

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bolmont, Emeline; Raymond, Sean N.; Leconte, Jeremy; Hersant, Franck; Correia, Alexandre C. M.

    2015-11-01

    A large proportion of observed planetary systems contain several planets in a compact orbital configuration, and often harbor at least one close-in object. These systems are then most likely tidally evolving. We investigate how the effects of planet-planet interactions influence the tidal evolution of planets. We introduce for that purpose a new open-source addition to the MercuryN-body code, Mercury-T, which takes into account tides, general relativity and the effect of rotation-induced flattening in order to simulate the dynamical and tidal evolution of multi-planet systems. It uses a standard equilibrium tidal model, the constant time lag model. Besides, the evolution of the radius of several host bodies has been implemented (brown dwarfs, M-dwarfs of mass 0.1 M⊙, Sun-like stars, Jupiter). We validate the new code by comparing its output for one-planet systems to the secular equations results. We find that this code does respect the conservation of total angular momentum. We applied this new tool to the planetary system Kepler-62. We find that tides influence the stability of the system in some cases. We also show that while the four inner planets of the systems are likely to have slow rotation rates and small obliquities, the fifth planet could have a fast rotation rate and a high obliquity. This means that the two habitable zone planets of this system, Kepler-62e ad f are likely to have very different climate features, and this of course would influence their potential at hosting surface liquid water. The code is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/583/A116

  7. PHOTOPHORETIC SEPARATION OF METALS AND SILICATES: THE FORMATION OF MERCURY-LIKE PLANETS AND METAL DEPLETION IN CHONDRITES

    SciTech Connect

    Wurm, Gerhard; Trieloff, Mario; Rauer, Heike

    2013-05-20

    Mercury's high uncompressed mass density suggests that the planet is largely composed of iron, either bound within metal (mainly Fe-Ni) or iron sulfide. Recent results from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury imply a low temperature history of the planet which questions the standard formation models of impact mantle stripping or evaporation to explain the high metal content. Like Mercury, the two smallest extrasolar rocky planets with mass and size determination, CoRoT-7b and Kepler-10b, were found to be of high density. As they orbit close to their host stars, this indicates that iron-rich inner planets might not be a nuisance of the solar system but be part of a general scheme of planet formation. From undifferentiated chondrites, it is also known that the metal to silicate ratio is highly variable, which must be ascribed to preplanetary fractionation processes. Due to this fractionation, most chondritic parent bodies-most of them originated in the asteroid belt-are depleted in iron relative to average solar system abundances. The astrophysical processes leading to metal silicate fractionation in the solar nebula are essentially unknown. Here, we consider photophoretic forces. As these forces particularly act on irradiated solids, they might play a significant role in the composition of planetesimals forming at the inner edge of protoplanetary disks. Photophoresis can separate high thermal conductivity materials (iron) from lower thermal conductivity solids (silicate). We suggest that the silicates are preferentially pushed into the optically thick disk. Subsequent planetesimal formation at the edge moving outward leads to metal-rich planetesimals close to the star and metal depleted planetesimals farther out in the nebula.

  8. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution: Introduction. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    The relative ages of various geologic units and structures place tight constraints on the origin of the Moon and the planet Mercury, and thus provide a better understanding of the geologic histories of these bodies. Crater statistics, a reexamination of lunar geologic maps, and the compilation of a geologic map of a quarter of Mercury's surface based on plains units dated relative to crater degradation classes were used to determine relative ages. This provided the basis for deducing the origin of intercrater plains and their role in terrestrial planet evolution.

  9. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Discussion of the nature, origin and role of the intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    The nature and origin of the intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon as determined through geologic mapping, crater statistics, and remotely sensed data are summarized. Implications of these results regarding scarp formation, absolute ages, and terrestrial planet surfaces are included. The role of the intercrater plains is defined and future work which might lead to a better understanding of these units and terrestrial planet evolution is outlined.

  10. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Chronology of surface history of Mercury. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Phases in the history of the planet Mercury include: (1) condensation and accretion; (2) heating; (3) planetary expansion during heavy bombardment; (4) tidal spin-down and lineament formation; (5) P5 plains emplacement; (6) P4 plains emplacement; (7) peak planetary volume in P3 period; (8) scarp formation; (9) Caloris Basin formation, late class 3; (10) scarp formation and P2 plains formation; (11) smooth plains formation in and around large basins; (12) late or local tectonic stress; and (13) quiescent class 1 period. Although the cooling and contraction of the lithosphere are complete, the core remains molten as an active dynamo, producing the magnetic fields detected by Mariner 10. Plains produced since core formation (P3 to P-1) should record its magnetic activity. Cratering during the Class 2 and Class 1 periods is probably not enough to distribute ballistic materials and homogenize any color differences.

  11. The extreme ultraviolet albedos of the planet Mercury and of the moon

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wu, H. H.; Broadfoot, A. L.

    1977-01-01

    The albedo of the moon in the far UV was measured by Mariner 10 at a solar phase angle of 74 deg, and the geometric albedo of Mercury was measured in same wavelength range (584-1657 A) at solar phase angles ranging from 50 to 120 deg. For both the moon and Mercury there is a general increase in albedo for wavelengths decreasing from 1657 to 584 A. The ratio of the albedos of Mercury and the moon increases from about 0.6 to 0.8 in the range 600-1600 A. This merely points to a difference in the surfaces of the moon and Mercury, there being insufficient data to make any conclusions regarding the nature of the difference.

  12. Mercury

    MedlinePlus

    ... button batteries. Mercury salts may be used in skin creams and ointments. It's also used in many industries. Mercury in the air settles into water. It can pass through the food chain and build up in ...

  13. Mercury

    MedlinePlus

    Mercury is an element that is found in air, water and soil. It has several forms. Metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, ... colorless, odorless gas. It also combines with other elements to form powders or crystals. Mercury is in ...

  14. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Alternative thermal histories. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Interpretations supporting a differentiated, once active Mercury are listed. Alternative scenarios of the planet's thermal history involve: different distributions of accreted materials, including uranium and thorium-rich materials; variations of early melting; and different modes of plains and scarp formation. Arguments are advanced which strongly favor plains formation by volcanism, lack of a primordial surface, and possible identification of remnant tensional features. Studies of remotely sensed data which strongly suggest a modestly homogeneous surface of silicates imply core separation. Reasons for accepting or rejecting various hypotheses for thermal histories of the planet are mentioned.

  15. The interior configuration of planet Mercury constrained by moment of inertia and planetary contraction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Knibbe, J. S.; Westrenen, W.

    2015-11-01

    This paper presents an analysis of present-day interior configuration models for Mercury considering cores of Fe-S or Fe-Si alloy, the latter possibly covered by a solid FeS layer, in light of the improved limit of planetary contraction of 7 km derived from MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging observations of surface landforms. Density profiles, generated by a Monte Carlo approach, are constrained by Mercury's mass, polar moment of inertia (C), fraction of polar moment corresponding to its outer solid shell (Cm/C), and observed planetary contraction. Results show that the outer liquid core boundary is constrained to 1985-2090 km in radius, where large radii correspond to high Si and S core contents and high mantle densities or the presence of an FeS layer at the top of the outer core. The bulk core S and Si contents are within 2.8-8.9 wt % and above 8.5 wt %, respectively, where an increase of light element core content correlates positively with mantle density and core size. The size of the inner core is constrained by the observed planetary contraction to below 1454 or 1543 km in radius for bulk cores rich in S (near 8.9 wt %) or Si (near 25 wt %), respectively. For cores poor in light elements, inner cores up to 1690 km in radius remain consistent with the observed planetary contraction. Finally, we show that solid FeS at outer core conditions, previously argued to float on liquid Fe-S, may be denser than the residual liquid. This implies that a separate mechanism may be required to maintain an FeS layer at the suggested location.

  16. Mercury

    MedlinePlus

    ... be found in: Batteries Chemistry labs Some disinfectants Folk remedies Red cinnabar mineral Organic mercury can be ... heart tracing Fluids through a vein (by IV) Medicine to treat symptoms The type of exposure will ...

  17. Radar studies of the planets. [radar measurements of lunar surface, Mars, Mercury, and Venus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ingalls, R. P.; Pettengill, G. H.; Rogers, A. E. E.; Sebring, P. B. (Editor); Shapiro, I. I.

    1974-01-01

    The radar measurements phase of the lunar studies involving reflectivity and topographic mapping of the visible lunar surface was ended in December 1972, but studies of the data and production of maps have continued. This work was supported by Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston. Topographic mapping of the equatorial regions of Mars has been carried out during the period of each opposition since that of 1967. The method comprised extended precise traveling time measurements to a small area centered on the subradar point. As measurements continued, planetary motions caused this point to sweep out extensive areas in both latitude and longitude permitting the development of a fairly extensive topographical map in the equatorial region. Radar observations of Mercury and Venus have also been made over the past few years. Refinements of planetary motions, reflectivity maps and determinations of rotation rates have resulted.

  18. Dance of the Planets

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riddle, Bob

    2005-01-01

    As students continue their monthly plotting of the planets along the ecliptic they should start to notice differences between inner and outer planet orbital motions, and their relative position or separation from the Sun. Both inner and outer planets have direct eastward motion, as well as retrograde motion. Inner planets Mercury and Venus,…

  19. Extrasolar planets.

    PubMed

    Lissauer, J J; Marcy, G W; Ida, S

    2000-11-01

    The first known extrasolar planet in orbit around a Sun-like star was discovered in 1995. This object, as well as over two dozen subsequently detected extrasolar planets, were all identified by observing periodic variations of the Doppler shift of light emitted by the stars to which they are bound. All of these extrasolar planets are more massive than Saturn is, and most are more massive than Jupiter. All orbit closer to their stars than do the giant planets in our Solar System, and most of those that do not orbit closer to their star than Mercury is to the Sun travel on highly elliptical paths. Prevailing theories of star and planet formation, which are based on observations of the Solar System and of young stars and their environments, predict that planets should form in orbit about most single stars. However, these models require some modifications to explain the properties of the observed extrasolar planetary systems. PMID:11035782

  20. Extrasolar planets

    PubMed Central

    Lissauer, Jack J.; Marcy, Geoffrey W.; Ida, Shigeru

    2000-01-01

    The first known extrasolar planet in orbit around a Sun-like star was discovered in 1995. This object, as well as over two dozen subsequently detected extrasolar planets, were all identified by observing periodic variations of the Doppler shift of light emitted by the stars to which they are bound. All of these extrasolar planets are more massive than Saturn is, and most are more massive than Jupiter. All orbit closer to their stars than do the giant planets in our Solar System, and most of those that do not orbit closer to their star than Mercury is to the Sun travel on highly elliptical paths. Prevailing theories of star and planet formation, which are based on observations of the Solar System and of young stars and their environments, predict that planets should form in orbit about most single stars. However, these models require some modifications to explain the properties of the observed extrasolar planetary systems. PMID:11035782

  1. A Measurement of the Shape of the Solar Disk: The Solar Quadrupole Moment, the Solar Octopole Moment, and the Advance of Perihelion of the Planet Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lydon, T. J.; Sofia, S.

    1996-01-01

    The Solar Disk Sextant experiment has measured the solar angular diameter for a variety of solar latitudes. Combined with solar surface angular rotation data, the solar quadrupole moment J2 and the solar octopole moment J4 have been derived first by assuming constant internal angular rotation on cylinders and then by assuming constant internal angular rotation on cones. We have derived values of 1.8×10-7 for J2 and 9.8×10-7 for J4. We conclude with a discussion of errors and address the prediction of general relativity for the rate of advance of perihelion of the planet Mercury.

  2. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Geologic mapping of Mercury and the Moon. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    The geologic framework of the intercrater plains on Mercury and the Moon as determined through geologic mapping is presented. The strategies used in such mapping are discussed first. Then, because the degree of crater degradation is applied to both mapping and crater statistics, the correlation of degradation classification of lunar and Mercurian craters is thoroughly addressed. Different imaging systems can potentially affect this classification, and are therefore also discussed. The techniques used in mapping Mercury are discussed in Section 2, followed by presentation of the Geologic Map of Mercury in Section 3. Material units, structures, and relevant albedo and color data are discussed therein. Preliminary conclusions regarding plains' origins are given there. The last section presents the mapping analyses of the lunar intercrater plains, including tentative conclusions of their origin.

  3. Chlorine on the surface of Mercury: MESSENGER gamma-ray measurements and implications for the planet's formation and evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Evans, Larry G.; Peplowski, Patrick N.; McCubbin, Francis M.; McCoy, Timothy J.; Nittler, Larry R.; Zolotov, Mikhail Yu.; Ebel, Denton S.; Lawrence, David J.; Starr, Richard D.; Weider, Shoshana Z.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2015-09-01

    Orbital measurements obtained by the MESSENGER Gamma-Ray Spectrometer have been analyzed to determine the surface abundance of chlorine in Mercury's northern hemisphere. The derived Cl/Si mass ratio is 0.0057 ± 0.001, which for an assumed Si abundance of 24.6 wt% corresponds to 0.14 ± 0.03 wt% Cl. The abundance of Cl is a factor of 2.9 ± 1.3 higher in the north polar region (>80°N) than at latitudes 0-60°N, a latitudinal variation similar to that observed for Na. Our reported Cl abundances are consistent with measured bulk concentrations of neutron-absorbing elements on Mercury, particularly those observed at high northern latitudes. The Cl/K ratio on Mercury is chondritic, indicating a limited impact history akin to that of Mars, which accreted rapidly. Hypotheses for the origin of Mercury's high metal-to-silicate ratio must be able to reproduce Mercury's observed elemental abundances, including Cl. Chlorine is also an important magmatic volatile, and its elevated abundance in the northern polar region of Mercury indicates that it could have played a role in the production, ascent, and eruption of flood volcanic material in this region. We have identified several candidate primary mineralogical hosts for Cl on Mercury, including the halide minerals lawrencite (FeCl2), sylvite (KCl), and halite (NaCl), as well as Cl-bearing alkali sulfides. Amphiboles, micas, apatite, and aqueously deposited halides, in contrast, may be ruled out as mineralogical hosts of Cl on Mercury.

  4. Missions to Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grard, Réjean; Laakso, Harry; Svedhem, Håkan

    2002-10-01

    Mercury is a poorly known planet. It is difficult to observe from Earth and to explore with spacecraft, due to its proximity to the Sun. Only the NASA probe Mariner 10 caught a few glimpses of Mercury during three flybys, more than 27 years ago. Still, this planet is an interesting and important object because it belongs, like our own Earth, to the family of the terrestrial planets. After reviewing what we know about Mercury and recapitulating the major findings of Mariner 10, we present the two missions, Messenger and BepiColombo, which will perform the first systematic exploration of this forgotten planet in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

  5. A measurement of the shape of the solar disk: The solar quadrupole moment, the solar octopole moment, and the advance of perihelion of the planet mercury

    SciTech Connect

    Lydon, T.J.; Sofia, S.

    1996-01-01

    The Solar Disk Sextant experiment has measured the solar angular diameter for a variety of solar latitudes. Combined with solar surface angular rotation data, the solar quadrupole moment {ital J}{sub 2} and the solar octopole moment {ital J}{sub 4} have been derived first by assuming constant internal angular rotation on cylinders and then by assuming constant internal angular rotation on cones. We have derived values of 1.8{times}10{sup {minus}7} for {ital J}{sub 2} and 9.8{times}10{sup {minus}7} for {ital J}{sub 4}. We conclude with a discussion of errors and address the prediction of general relativity for the rate of advance of perihelion of the planet Mercury. {copyright} {ital 1996 The American Physical Society.}

  6. The Planet Mercury Surface Spectroscopy and Analysis from the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and Analysis and Modeling to Determine Surface Composition

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sprague, Ann

    1997-01-01

    We had two successful flights to observe Mercury from the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) using High-efficiency Infrared Faint-Object Grating Spectrograph (HIFOGS). Flights were May 8, 1995 (eastern elongation) and July 6, 1995 (western elongation) For the observations one half of the primary mirror was covered to prevent sunlight from entering the telescope. All equipment and the airplane and its crew performed well. These flights were historical firsts for the KAO and for spectroscopy of Mercury in that it was the first time any spectroscopic observations of Mercury from above the Earth's atmosphere had been made. It was the first time the KAO had been used to @bserve an object less than 30 degrees from the Sun. Upon completion of the basic data reduction it became obvious that extensive modeling and analysis would be required to understand the data. It took three years of a graduate student's time and part time the PI to do the thermal modeling and the spectroscopic analysis. This resulted in a lengthy publication. A copy of this publication is attached and has all the data obtained in both KAO flights and the results clearly presented. Notable results are: (1) The observations found an as yet unexplained 5 micron emission enhancement that we think may be a real characteristic of Mercury's surface but could have an instrumental cause; (2) Ground-based measurements or an emission maximum at 7.7 microns were corroborated. The chemical composition of Mercury's surface must be feldspathic in order to explain spectra features found in the data obtained during the KAO flights.

  7. The internal structure of the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter according to the Savic-Kasanin theory

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Savic, P.

    The internal structure of Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter is considered in the framework of the Savic-Kasanin theory of the behavior of materials under high pressure. The main hypothesis underlying the theory is based on the deformation of the electron shells by the dislocation and ejection of electrons from atoms in a given material. This theory is discussed in relation to the spontaneous effect of gravitation and cooling on atoms in the material of a celestial body.

  8. Mercury's Messenger

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Chapman, Clark R.

    2004-01-01

    Forty years after Mariner 2, planetary exploration has still only just begun, and many more missions are on drawing boards, nearing the launch pad, or even en route across interplanetary space to their targets. One of the most challenging missions that will be conducted this decade is sending the MESSENGER spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury.…

  9. Mercury's exosphere: observations during MESSENGER's First Mercury flyby.

    PubMed

    McClintock, William E; Bradley, E Todd; Vervack, Ronald J; Killen, Rosemary M; Sprague, Ann L; Izenberg, Noam R; Solomon, Sean C

    2008-07-01

    During MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer measured Mercury's exospheric emissions, including those from the antisunward sodium tail, calcium and sodium close to the planet, and hydrogen at high altitudes on the dayside. Spatial variations indicate that multiple source and loss processes generate and maintain the exosphere. Energetic processes connected to the solar wind and magnetospheric interaction with the planet likely played an important role in determining the distributions of exospheric species during the flyby. PMID:18599778

  10. Planets' magnetic environments

    SciTech Connect

    Lanzerotti, L.J.; Uberoi, C.

    1989-02-01

    The magnetospheres of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and comets and the heliomagnetosphere are examined. The orientations of the planetary spin and magnetic axes, the size of the magnetospheres, and the magnetic properties and the radio emissions of the planets are compared. Results from spacecraft studies of the planets are included. Plans for the Voyager 2 mission and its expected study of the Neptune magnetosphere are considered.

  11. Nonrelativistic Contribution to Mercury's Perihelion Precession.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Price, Michael P.; Rush, William F.

    1979-01-01

    Presents a calculation of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury due to the perturbations from the outer planets. The time-average effect of each planet is calculated by replacing that planet with a ring of linear mass density equal to the mass of the planet divided by the circumference of its orbit. (Author/GA)

  12. Terrestrial planet formation

    PubMed Central

    Righter, K.; O’Brien, D. P.

    2011-01-01

    Advances in our understanding of terrestrial planet formation have come from a multidisciplinary approach. Studies of the ages and compositions of primitive meteorites with compositions similar to the Sun have helped to constrain the nature of the building blocks of planets. This information helps to guide numerical models for the three stages of planet formation from dust to planetesimals (∼106 y), followed by planetesimals to embryos (lunar to Mars-sized objects; few × 106 y), and finally embryos to planets (107–108 y). Defining the role of turbulence in the early nebula is a key to understanding the growth of solids larger than meter size. The initiation of runaway growth of embryos from planetesimals ultimately leads to the growth of large terrestrial planets via large impacts. Dynamical models can produce inner Solar System configurations that closely resemble our Solar System, especially when the orbital effects of large planets (Jupiter and Saturn) and damping mechanisms, such as gas drag, are included. Experimental studies of terrestrial planet interiors provide additional constraints on the conditions of differentiation and, therefore, origin. A more complete understanding of terrestrial planet formation might be possible via a combination of chemical and physical modeling, as well as obtaining samples and new geophysical data from other planets (Venus, Mars, or Mercury) and asteroids. PMID:21709256

  13. Terrestrial planet formation.

    PubMed

    Righter, K; O'Brien, D P

    2011-11-29

    Advances in our understanding of terrestrial planet formation have come from a multidisciplinary approach. Studies of the ages and compositions of primitive meteorites with compositions similar to the Sun have helped to constrain the nature of the building blocks of planets. This information helps to guide numerical models for the three stages of planet formation from dust to planetesimals (~10(6) y), followed by planetesimals to embryos (lunar to Mars-sized objects; few 10(6) y), and finally embryos to planets (10(7)-10(8) y). Defining the role of turbulence in the early nebula is a key to understanding the growth of solids larger than meter size. The initiation of runaway growth of embryos from planetesimals ultimately leads to the growth of large terrestrial planets via large impacts. Dynamical models can produce inner Solar System configurations that closely resemble our Solar System, especially when the orbital effects of large planets (Jupiter and Saturn) and damping mechanisms, such as gas drag, are included. Experimental studies of terrestrial planet interiors provide additional constraints on the conditions of differentiation and, therefore, origin. A more complete understanding of terrestrial planet formation might be possible via a combination of chemical and physical modeling, as well as obtaining samples and new geophysical data from other planets (Venus, Mars, or Mercury) and asteroids. PMID:21709256

  14. Revealing Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prockter, L. M.; Solomon, S. C.; Head, J. W.; Watters, T. R.; Murchie, S. L.; Robinson, M. S.; Chapman, C. R.; McNutt, R. L.

    2009-04-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, developed under NASA's Discovery Program, launched in August 2004. En route to insertion into orbit about Mercury in 2011, MESSENGER flies by Mercury three times. The first and second of these encounters were accomplished in January and October of 2008. These flybys viewed portions of Mercury's surface that were not observed by Mariner 10 during its reconnaissance of somewhat less than half of the planet in 1974-1975. All MESSENGER instruments operated during each flyby and returned a wealth of new data. Many of the new observations were focused on the planet's geology, including monochrome imaging at resolutions as high as 100 m/pixel, multispectral imaging in 11 filters at resolutions as high as 500 m/pixel, laser altimetry tracks extending over several thousands of kilometers, and high-resolution spectral measurements of several types of terrain. Here we present an overview of the first inferences on the global geology of Mercury from the MESSENGER observations. Whereas evidence for volcanism was equivocal from Mariner 10 data, the new MESSENGER images and altimetry provide compelling evidence that volcanism was widespread and protracted on Mercury. Color imaging reveals three common spectral units on the surface: a higher-reflectance, relatively red material occurring as a distinct class of smooth plains, typically with distinct embayment relationships interpreted to indicate volcanic emplacement; a lower-reflectance, relatively blue material typically excavated by impact craters and therefore inferred to be more common at depth; and a spectrally intermediate terrain that constitutes much of the uppermost crust. Three more minor spectral units are also seen: fresh crater ejecta, reddish material associated with rimless depressions interpreted to be volcanic centers, and high-reflectance deposits seen in some crater floors. Preliminary measurements of crater size

  15. Unlocking the Secrets of Mercury

    NASA Video Gallery

    Of all the rocky planets, Mercury is the smallest and densest, the one with the oldest surface, and the one with the largest daily surface temperature variations. It is also the least explored! Joi...

  16. Mercury's Caloris Basin

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2001-01-01

    Mercury: Computer Photomosaic of the Caloris Basin

    The largest basin on Mercury (1300 km or 800 miles across) was named Caloris (Greek for 'hot') because it is one of the two areas on the planet that face the Sun at perihelion.

    The Image Processing Lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory produced this photomosaic using computer software and techniques developed for use in processing planetary data. The Mariner 10 spacecraft imaged the region during its initial flyby of the planet.

    The Mariner 10 spacecraft was launched in 1974. The spacecraft took images of Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury in March and September 1974 and March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 images of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon during its mission.

    The Mariner 10 Mission was managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C.

  17. MESSENGER: Exploring the Innermost Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    2011-12-01

    One of Earth's closest planetary neighbors, Mercury remained comparatively unexplored for the more than three decades that followed the three flybys of the innermost planet by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974-75. Mariner 10 imaged 45% of Mercury's surface at about 1 km/pixel average resolution, confirmed Mercury's anomalously high bulk density and implied large fractional core size, discovered Mercury's internal magnetic field, documented that H and He are present in the planet's tenuous exosphere, and made the first exploration of Mercury's magnetosphere and solar wind environment. Ground-based astronomers later reported Na, K, and Ca in Mercury's exosphere; the presence of deposits in the floors of polar craters having radar characteristics best matched by water ice; and strong evidence from the planet's forced libration amplitude that Mercury has a fluid outer core. Spacecraft exploration of Mercury resumed with the selection for flight, under NASA's Discovery Program, of the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission. Launched in 2004, MESSENGER flew by the innermost planet three times in 2008-2009 en route to becoming the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury in March of this year. MESSENGER's first chemical remote sensing measurements of Mercury's surface indicate that the planet's bulk silicate fraction differs from those of the other inner planets, with a low-Fe surface composition intermediate between basalts and ultramafic rocks and best matched among terrestrial rocks by komatiites. Moreover, surface materials are richer in the volatile constituents S and K than predicted by most planetary formation models. Global image mosaics and targeted high-resolution images (to resolutions of 10 m/pixel) reveal that Mercury experienced globally extensive volcanism, including large expanses of plains emplaced as flood lavas and widespread examples of pyroclastic deposits likely emplaced during explosive eruptions of volatile

  18. Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, J. A.

    1999-01-01

    Among the major discoveries made by the Mariner 10 mission to the inner planets was the existence of an intrinsic magnetic field at Mercury with a dipole moment of approx. 300 nT R(sup 3, sub M). This magnetic field is sufficient to stand off the solar wind at an altitude of about 1 R(sub M) (i.e. approx. 2439 km). Hence, Mercury possesses a 'magnetosphere' from which the so]ar wind plasma is largely excluded and within which the motion of charged particles is controlled by the planetary magnetic field. Despite its small size relative to the magnetospheres of the other planets, a Mercury orbiter mission is a high priority for the space physics community. The primary reason for this great interest is that Mercury unlike all the other planets visited thus far, lacks a significant atmosphere; only a vestigial exosphere is present. This results in a unique situation where the magnetosphere interacts directly with the outer layer of the planetary crust (i.e. the regolith). At all of the other planets the topmost regions of their atmospheres become ionized by solar radiation to form ionospheres. These planetary ionospheres then couple to electrodynamically to their magnetospheres or, in the case of the weakly magnetized Venus and Mars, directly to the solar wind. This magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling is mediated largely through field-aligned currents (FACs) flowing along the magnetic field lines linking the magnetosphere and the high-latitude ionosphere. Mercury is unique in that it is expected that FACS will be very short lived due to the low electrical conductivity of the regolith. Furthermore, at the earth it has been shown that the outflow of neutral atmospheric species to great altitudes is an important source of magnetospheric plasma (following ionization) whose composition may influence subsequent magnetotail dynamics. However, the dominant source of plasma for most of the terrestrial magnetosphere is the 'leakage'of solar wind across the magnetopause and more

  19. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Cratering histories of the intercrater plains. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon are defined, in part, by their high densities of small craters. The crater size frequency statistics presented in this chapter may help constrain the relative ages and origins of these surfaces. To this end, the effects of common geologic processes on crater frequency statistics are compared with the diameter frequency distributions of the intercrater regions of the Moon and Mercury. Such analyses may determine whether secondary craters dominate the distribution at small diameters, and whether volcanic plains or ballistic deposits form the intercrater surface. Determining the mass frequency distribution and flux of the impacting population is a more difficult problem. The necessary information such as scaling relationships between projectile energy and crater diameter, the relative fluxes of solar system objects, and the absolute ages of surface units is model dependent and poorly constrained, especially for Mercury.

  20. Innermost Planets of the Solar System

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    The appearance and characteristics of Mercury and Venus as evening and morning stars are discussed. Inferior and superior conjunction are defined. The motions, phases, and planetary dynamics of the two planets are compared with those of the earth and moon.

  1. Magnetosphere of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Whang, Y. C.

    1975-01-01

    A model magnetosphere of Mercury using Mariner 10 data is presented. Diagrams of the bow shock wave and magnetopause are shown. The analysis of Mariner 10 data indicates that the magnetic field of the planet is intrinsic. The magnetic tail and secondary magnetic fields, and the influence of the solar wind are also discussed.

  2. The magnetosphere of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ness, N. F.

    1976-01-01

    Data on Mercury's magnetosphere and on the plasma, planetomagnetic, and energetic particle environment of the planet obtained in three encounters (Mariner 10 flybys) are compared, and tasks for future research are outlined. The Mercury bow shock and magnetopause are much closer to the planet than the earth counterparts are to the earth. The magnetotail with embedded plasma sheet-field reversal region, global deflection of the solar wind by an intrinsic dipolar magnetic field, variations in solar wind momentum flux, and absence of such features as ionosphere, plasmasphere, and radiation belts, are described. Energetic electrons are accelerated in the magnetotail, however, and the interplanetary magnetic field variations distort Mercury's magnetosphere to produce a southward field associated with substorm-like disturbances.

  3. MESSENGER: Exploring Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.

    2008-01-01

    The MESSENGER mission to Mercury offers our first opportunity to explore this planet's miniature magnetosphere since Mariner 10's brief fly-bys in 1974-5. Mercury's magnetosphere is unique in many respects. The magnetosphere of Mercury is the smallest in the solar system with its magnetic field typically standing off the solar wind only - 1000 to 2000 km above the surface. For this reason there are no closed dri-fi paths for energetic particles and, hence, no radiation belts; the characteristic time scales for wave propagation and convective transport are short possibly coupling kinetic and fluid modes; magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause may erode the subsolar magnetosphere allowing solar wind ions to directly impact the dayside regolith; inductive currents in Mercury's interior should act to modify the solar In addition, Mercury's magnetosphere is the only one with its defining magnetic flux tubes rooted in a planetary regolith as opposed to an atmosphere with a conductive ionosphere. This lack of an ionosphere is thought to be the underlying reason for the brevity of the very intense, but short lived, approx. 1-2 min, substorm-like energetic particle events observed by Mariner 10 in Mercury's magnetic tail. In this seminar, we review what we think we know about Mercury's magnetosphere and describe the MESSENGER science team's strategy for obtaining answers to the outstanding science questions surrounding the interaction of the solar wind with Mercury and its small, but dynamic magnetosphere.

  4. Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Deeg, Hans; Belmonte, Juan Antonio; Aparicio, Antonio

    2012-03-01

    Participants; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Extrasolar planet detection methods Laurance R. Doyle; 2. Statistical properties of exoplanets Stéphane Udry; 3. Characterizing extrasolar planets Timothy M. Brown; 4. From clouds to planet systems: formation and evolution of stars and planets Günther Wuchterl; 5. Abundances in stars with extrasolar planetary systems Garik Israelian; 6. Brown dwarfs: the bridge between stars and planets Rafael Rebolo; 7. The perspective: a panorama of the Solar System Agustín Sánchez-Lavega; 8. Habitable planets around the Sun and other stars James F. Kasting; 9. Biomarkers of extrasolar planets and their observability Franck Selsis, Jimmy Paillet and France Allard; Index.

  5. Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Deeg, Hans; Belmonte, Juan Antonio; Aparicio, Antonio

    2007-10-01

    Participants; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Extrasolar planet detection methods Laurance R. Doyle; 2. Statistical properties of exoplanets Stéphane Udry; 3. Characterizing extrasolar planets Timothy M. Brown; 4. From clouds to planet systems: formation and evolution of stars and planets Günther Wuchterl; 5. Abundances in stars with extrasolar planetary systems Garik Israelian; 6. Brown dwarfs: the bridge between stars and planets Rafael Rebolo; 7. The perspective: a panorama of the Solar System Agustín Sánchez-Lavega; 8. Habitable planets around the Sun and other stars James F. Kasting; 9. Biomarkers of extrasolar planets and their observability Franck Selsis, Jimmy Paillet and France Allard; Index.

  6. Do Other Planets Have Summer?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Nelson, George

    2005-01-01

    It's important to keep two things in mind when thinking about the cause of the seasons: (1) Earth and all the other planets except Pluto and Mercury move around the Sun in almost perfect circles, getting neither closer nor farther away from the Sun during the year; and (2) Earth's rotation axis is tilted with respect to the plane of its orbit…

  7. History of the mass of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lyttleton, R. A.

    1980-01-01

    This paper discusses the calculation of the masses of planets, as a means to construct reliable tables for their positions. Emphasis is placed on the four inner planets and the moon, with additional consideration given to the history of the masses of Jupiter and Saturn. A smooth curve can be drawn with the logarithm of the masses of the earth, Venus, Mars, and the moon, but the point for Mercury lies substantially off the curve. An investigation of the material content, surface examination, and planet radius for the planets leads to a reexamination of the history of the value for the mass of Mercury.

  8. Mercury's Dynamic Magnetic Tail

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.

    2010-01-01

    The Mariner 10 and MESSENGER flybys of Mercury have revealed a magnetosphere that is likely the most responsive to upstream interplanetary conditions of any in the solar system. The source of the great dynamic variability observed during these brief passages is due to Mercury's proximity to the Sun and the inverse proportionality between reconnection rate and solar wind Alfven Mach number. However, this planet's lack of an ionosphere and its small physical dimensions also contribute to Mercury's very brief Dungey cycle, approx. 2 min, which governs the time scale for internal plasma circulation. Current observations and understanding of the structure and dynamics of Mercury's magnetotail are summarized and discussed. Special emphasis will be placed upon such questions as: 1) How much access does the solar wind have to this small magnetosphere as a function of upstream conditions? 2) What roles do heavy planetary ions play? 3) Do Earth-like substorms take place at Mercury? 4) How does Mercury's tail respond to extreme solar wind events such coronal mass ejections? Prospects for progress due to advances in the global magnetohydrodynamic and hybrid simulation modeling and the measurements to be taken by MESSENGER after it enters Mercury orbit on March 18, 2011 will be discussed.

  9. Taxonomy of the extrasolar planet.

    PubMed

    Plávalová, Eva

    2012-04-01

    When a star is described as a spectral class G2V, we know that the star is similar to our Sun. We know its approximate mass, temperature, age, and size. When working with an extrasolar planet database, it is very useful to have a taxonomy scale (classification) such as, for example, the Harvard classification for stars. The taxonomy has to be easily interpreted and present the most relevant information about extrasolar planets. I propose an extrasolar planet taxonomy scale with four parameters. The first parameter concerns the mass of an extrasolar planet in the form of units of the mass of other known planets, where M represents the mass of Mercury, E that of Earth, N Neptune, and J Jupiter. The second parameter is the planet's distance from its parent star (semimajor axis) described in a logarithm with base 10. The third parameter is the mean Dyson temperature of the extrasolar planet, for which I established four main temperature classes: F represents the Freezing class, W the Water class, G the Gaseous class, and R the Roasters class. I devised one additional class, however: P, the Pulsar class, which concerns extrasolar planets orbiting pulsar stars. The fourth parameter is eccentricity. If the attributes of the surface of the extrasolar planet are known, we are able to establish this additional parameter where t represents a terrestrial planet, g a gaseous planet, and i an ice planet. According to this taxonomy scale, for example, Earth is 1E0W0t, Neptune is 1N1.5F0i, and extrasolar planet 55 Cnc e is 9E-1.8R1. PMID:22506608

  10. Reference Atmosphere for Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Killen, Rosemary M.

    2002-01-01

    We propose that Ar-40 measured in the lunar atmosphere and that in Mercury's atmosphere is due to current diffusion into connected pore space within the crust. Higher temperatures at Mercury, along with more rapid loss from the atmosphere will lead to a smaller column abundance of argon at Mercury than at the Moon, given the same crustal abundance of potassium. Because the noble gas abundance in the Hermean atmosphere represents current effusion, it is a direct measure of the crustal potassium abundance. Ar-40 in the atmospheres of the planets is a measure of potassium abundance in the interiors, since Ar-40 is a product of radiogenic decay of K-40 by electron capture with the subsequent emission of a 1.46 eV gamma-ray. Although the Ar-40 in the Earth's atmosphere is expected to have accumulated since the late bombardment, Ar-40 in the atmospheres of Mercury and the Moon is eroded quickly by photoionization and electron impact ionization. Thus, the argon content in the exospheres of the Moon and Mercury is representative of current effusion rather than accumulation over the lifetime of the planet.

  11. Mosaic Postcards from Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hallau, K. G.; Chapman, C. R.; Edmonds, J.; Goldstein, J.; Hirshon, B.; Solomon, S. C.; Vanhala, H.; Weir, H. M.; Messenger Education; Public Outreach Team

    2010-12-01

    On its journey to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has followed a trajectory that included three flybys of the innermost planet. During the flybys, images captured by the Mercury Dual Imaging System revealed parts of the planet’s surface never before seen at close range, as well as high-resolution views of craters, crater rays, scarps, faults, and volcanic vents and flows. To help students and teachers better understand this revealing new look at Mercury, the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach team will share these high-resolution images of Mercury's surface throughout the upcoming Year of the Solar System. By means of an intriguing format that mimics methods used by the MESSENGER team, a series of images printed at large postcard size will each highlight a small "slice" of Mercury, such as a crater or fault. The individual cards can then be pieced together, puzzle-style, on a poster-sized grid to reveal a larger mosaic view of the planet. Each card contains engaging text, the URL for an accompanying website, and coordinates for that region of the planet, helping students understand scientific concepts related to and revealed by MESSENGER's journey. The first set of cards will feature scarps, volcanic plains, the topography of a crater and the composition of its interior units, rayed craters, nested craters, and a deposit produced by explosive volcanic eruptions. Cards will be available for free on the accompanying website, distributed by MESSENGER Educator Fellows, or handed out at meetings, conferences, and workshops.

  12. Momument at Pad 14 honoring Project Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1966-01-01

    Momument at Pad 14 honoring Project Mercury. The Arabic number 7 represents the seven original astronauts. The other figure is the astronomical symbol of the Planet Mercury. In background is the Gemini 12 Agena Target Docking Vehicle atop its Atlas launch vehicle at Cape Kennedy, Florida.

  13. Terrestrial Planet Geophysics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Phillips, R. J.

    2008-12-01

    Terrestrial planet geophysics beyond our home sphere had its start arguably in the early 1960s, with Keith Runcorn contending that the second-degree shape of the Moon is due to convection and Mariner 2 flying past Venus and detecting no planetary magnetic field. Within a decade, in situ surface geophysical measurements were carried out on the Moon with the Apollo program, portions of the lunar magnetic and gravity fields were mapped, and Jack Lorell and his colleagues at JPL were producing spherical harmonic gravity field models for Mars using tracking data from Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. Moreover, Mariner 10 discovered a planetary magnetic field at Mercury, and a young Sean Solomon was using geological evidence of surface contraction to constrain the thermal evolution of the innermost planet. In situ geophysical experiments (such as seismic networks) were essentially never carried out after Apollo, although they were sometimes planned just beyond the believability horizon in planetary mission queues. Over the last three decades, the discipline of terrestrial planet geophysics has matured, making the most out of orbital magnetic and gravity field data, altimetric measurements of surface topography, and the integration of geochemical information. Powerful constraints are provided by tectonic and volcanic information gleaned from surface images, and the engagement of geologists in geophysical exercises is actually quite useful. Accompanying these endeavors, modeling techniques, largely adopted from the Earth Science community, have become increasingly sophisticated and have been greatly enhanced by the dramatic increase in computing power over the last two decades. The future looks bright with exciting new data sets emerging from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, the promise of the GRAIL gravity mission to the Moon, and the re-emergence of Venus as a worthy target for exploration. Who knows? With the unflagging optimism and persistence

  14. The low-degree shape of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Mark E.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Phillips, Roger J.; Barnouin, Olivier S.; Ernst, Carolyn M.; Kahan, Daniel S.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zuber, Maria T.; Smith, David E.; Hauck, Steven A.; Peale, Stanton J.; Margot, Jean-Luc; Mazarico, Erwan; Johnson, Catherine L.; Gaskell, Robert W.; Roberts, James H.; McNutt, Ralph L.; Oberst, Juergen

    2015-09-01

    The shape of Mercury, particularly when combined with its geoid, provides clues to the planet's internal structure, thermal evolution, and rotational history. Elevation measurements of the northern hemisphere acquired by the Mercury Laser Altimeter on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft, combined with 378 occultations of radio signals from the spacecraft in the planet's southern hemisphere, reveal the low-degree shape of Mercury. Mercury's mean radius is 2439.36 ± 0.02 km, and there is a 0.14 km offset between the planet's centers of mass and figure. Mercury is oblate, with a polar radius 1.65 km less than the mean equatorial radius. The difference between the semimajor and semiminor equatorial axes is 1.25 km, with the long axis oriented 15° west of Mercury's dynamically defined principal axis. Mercury's geoid is also oblate and elongated, but it deviates from a sphere by a factor of 10 less than Mercury's shape, implying compensation of elevation variations on a global scale.

  15. Accumulation of the planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wetherill, G. W.

    1987-01-01

    In modeling the accumulation of planetesimals into planets, it is appropriate to distinguish between two stages: an early stage, during which approximately 10 km diameter planetesimals accumulate locally to form bodies approximate 10 to the 25th g in mass; and a later stage in which the approximately 10 to the 25th g planetesimals accumulate into the final planets. In the terrestrial planet region, an initial planetesimal swarm corresponding to the critical mass of dust layer gravitational instabilities is considered. In order to better understand the accumulation history of Mercury-sized bodies, 19 Monte-Carlo simulations of terrestrial planet growth were calculated. A Monte Carlo technique was used to investigate the orbital evolution of asteroidal collision debris produced interior to 2.6 AU. It was found that there are two regions primarily responsible for production of Earth-crossing meteoritic material and Apollo objects. The same techniques were extended to include the origin of Earth-approaching asteroidal bodies. It is found that these same two resonant mechanisms predict a steady-state number of Apollo-Amor about 1/2 that estimated based on astronomical observations.

  16. Mercury's sodium exosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schmidt, Carl A.

    In this dissertation I examine the properties and origins of the most energetic component of Mercury's atmosphere and how it couples to the planet's magnetosphere and space environment. Mercury' s atmosphere consists of particles liberated from its surface that follow ballistic, collisionless trajectories under the influence of gravity and solar radiation pressure. This tenuous atmosphere can be classified as an exosphere where the exobase boundary is the planet's surface. To explain how this exosphere is sustained, a number of theories have been presented: (1) thermal evaporation from the hot surface; (2) photo-desorption of surface materials by UV solar radiation; (3) sputtering by plasma surface interactions; and (4) vaporization of the surface by micro-meteorite impacts. Using a 3-dimensional numerical model, I determine the role each source has in populating the exosphere. New observations of Mercury's escaping atmosphere are presented using novel imaging techniques in which sodium acts as a tracer to identify atmospheric sources. I discuss the implications of these measurements for our understanding of the physical processes at work in the exosphere, and provide a foundation for modeling such processes. For the first time, this work quantifies the variability in the loss of Mercury's sodium as a seasonal effect. My observations show that atmospheric escape can, at times, exceed 1024 Na atoms/s, nearly twice the highest rate previously reported. By forward modeling Mercury' s atmospheric escape, I place new constraints on the source properties and eliminate the prevailing theory that the escaping tail is sputtered from the surface by solar wind ions. The MESSENGER spacecraft has recently discovered that sodium is distributed unevenly over the surface and that the magnetosphere is offset from the planet's center. Using the first model to include these effects, I demonstrate the magnetosphere's influence upon exospheric sources by simulating asymmetries observed

  17. Mercury radar speckle dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Holin, Igor V.

    2010-06-01

    Current data reveal that Mercury is a dynamic system with a core which has not yet solidified completely and is at least partially decoupled from the mantle. Radar speckle displacement experiments have demonstrated that the accuracy in spin-dynamics determination for Earth-like planets can approach 10 -5. The extended analysis of space-time correlation properties of radar echoes shows that the behavior of speckles does not prevent estimation of Mercury's instantaneous spin-vector components to accuracy of a few parts in 10 7. This limit can be reached with more powerful radar facilities and leads to constraining the interior in more detail from effects of spin dynamics, e.g., from observation of the core-mantle interplay through high precision monitoring of the 88-day spin-variation of Mercury's crust.

  18. To Mercury dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barkin, Yu. V.; Ferrandiz, J. M.

    obtain new and accurate data about dynamics and structure of this planet (Anselmi et al., 2001). There are also some evaluations of moments of inertia Mercury and its core: C/(mR^2)=0.35, C_m /C=0.5± 0.07, (Peal, 1996). Here C and C_m are the moments of inertia of the full Mercury and of its core, m and R is a mass and a mean radius of Mercury. Based on two methods, we consider the rotation of Mercury in the gravitational field of the Sun. First method of perturbation has been effectively applied to the construction of a rotational theory of the Earth for its models as two or three layer celestial body moving in gravitational fields of the Moon, Sun and planets in wide set of papers ranging in 1999-2001 years of Ferrandiz J.M. and Getino J.(2001). Some generalization of this Hamiltonian formalism on the case of cavity (core) with arbitrary dynamical and geometrical oblateness has been obtained in a paper (Barkin, Ferrandiz, 2001). Another method is an analytical method of construction of the resonant rotational motion of synchronous satellites and Mercury, considered as non-spherical rigid bodies. This method has been applied earlier to construction of an analytical theory of rotation of the Moon considered as rigid non-spherical body (Barkin, 1989). Here we modified these methods to apply them to the study of the resonant rotation of a two-layer Mercury. By this we use very effective for the application of perturbation methods and dynamical geometrical illustration of canonical equations in Andoyer and Poincare variables. Main resonant properties of Mercury motion were been described first as generalized Cassini's laws (Colombo, 1966). But Colombo and some anothers scientists (Peal, 1969; Beletskii, 1972; Ward, 1975 and oth.) considered Mercury as rigid non-spherical body sometimes taking into account tidal deformation. Here we have been obtained and formulated these laws and their generalization for a two-layer model of Mercury. On the next step we have evaluated

  19. A sub-Mercury-sized exoplanet.

    PubMed

    Barclay, Thomas; Rowe, Jason F; Lissauer, Jack J; Huber, Daniel; Fressin, François; Howell, Steve B; Bryson, Stephen T; Chaplin, William J; Désert, Jean-Michel; Lopez, Eric D; Marcy, Geoffrey W; Mullally, Fergal; Ragozzine, Darin; Torres, Guillermo; Adams, Elisabeth R; Agol, Eric; Barrado, David; Basu, Sarbani; Bedding, Timothy R; Buchhave, Lars A; Charbonneau, David; Christiansen, Jessie L; Christensen-Dalsgaard, Jørgen; Ciardi, David; Cochran, William D; Dupree, Andrea K; Elsworth, Yvonne; Everett, Mark; Fischer, Debra A; Ford, Eric B; Fortney, Jonathan J; Geary, John C; Haas, Michael R; Handberg, Rasmus; Hekker, Saskia; Henze, Christopher E; Horch, Elliott; Howard, Andrew W; Hunter, Roger C; Isaacson, Howard; Jenkins, Jon M; Karoff, Christoffer; Kawaler, Steven D; Kjeldsen, Hans; Klaus, Todd C; Latham, David W; Li, Jie; Lillo-Box, Jorge; Lund, Mikkel N; Lundkvist, Mia; Metcalfe, Travis S; Miglio, Andrea; Morris, Robert L; Quintana, Elisa V; Stello, Dennis; Smith, Jeffrey C; Still, Martin; Thompson, Susan E

    2013-02-28

    Since the discovery of the first exoplanets, it has been known that other planetary systems can look quite unlike our own. Until fairly recently, we have been able to probe only the upper range of the planet size distribution, and, since last year, to detect planets that are the size of Earth or somewhat smaller. Hitherto, no planets have been found that are smaller than those we see in the Solar System. Here we report a planet significantly smaller than Mercury. This tiny planet is the innermost of three that orbit the Sun-like host star, which we have designated Kepler-37. Owing to its extremely small size, similar to that of the Moon, and highly irradiated surface, the planet, Kepler-37b, is probably rocky with no atmosphere or water, similar to Mercury. PMID:23426260

  20. Space plasma physics research progress 1987-1990 - Mars, Venus, and Mercury

    SciTech Connect

    Luhmann, J.G. )

    1991-01-01

    Theoretical and observational studies of space plasma physics at the inner planets, Mars, Venus, and Mercury are reviewed. Emphasis is placed on the solar wind interactions and aeronomy (upper neutral atmospheres and ionospheres) of these planets. 206 refs.

  1. Extreme Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2006-01-01

    This artist's concept depicts the pulsar planet system discovered by Aleksander Wolszczan in 1992. Wolszczan used the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to find three planets - the first of any kind ever found outside our solar system - circling a pulsar called PSR B1257+12. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars, which are the collapsed cores of exploded massive stars. They spin and pulse with radiation, much like a lighthouse beacon. Here, the pulsar's twisted magnetic fields are highlighted by the blue glow.

    All three pulsar planets are shown in this picture; the farthest two from the pulsar (closest in this view) are about the size of Earth. Radiation from charged pulsar particles would probably rain down on the planets, causing their night skies to light up with auroras similar to our Northern Lights. One such aurora is illustrated on the planet at the bottom of the picture.

    Since this landmark discovery, more than 160 extrasolar planets have been observed around stars that are burning nuclear fuel. The planets spotted by Wolszczan are still the only ones around a dead star. They also might be part of a second generation of planets, the first having been destroyed when their star blew up. The Spitzer Space Telescope's discovery of a dusty disk around a pulsar might represent the beginnings of a similarly 'reborn' planetary system.

  2. Mercury and Your Health

    MedlinePlus

    ... the Risk of Exposure to Mercury Learn About Mercury What is Mercury What is Metallic mercury? Toxicological Profile ToxFAQs Mercury Resources CDC’s National Biomonitoring Program Factsheet on Mercury ...

  3. Mercury's Complex Exosphere: Results from MESSENGER's Third Flyby

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vervack, Ronald J., Jr.; McClintock, William E.; Killen, Rosemary M.; Sprague, Ann L.; Anderson, Brian J.; Burger, Matthew H.; Bradley, E. Todd; Mouawad, Nelly; Solomon, Sean C.; Izenberg, Noam R.

    2010-01-01

    During MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer detected emission from ionized calcium concentrated 1 to 2 Mercury radii tailward of the planet. This measurement provides evidence for tailward magnetospheric convection of photoions produced inside the magnetosphere. Observations of neutral sodium, calcium, and magnesium above the planet's north and south poles reveal attitude distributions that are distinct for each species. A two-component sodium distribution and markedly different magnesium distributions above the two poles are direct indications that multiple processes control the distribution of even single species in Mercury's exosphere,

  4. Mercury's complex exosphere: results from MESSENGER's third flyby.

    PubMed

    Vervack, Ronald J; McClintock, William E; Killen, Rosemary M; Sprague, Ann L; Anderson, Brian J; Burger, Matthew H; Bradley, E Todd; Mouawad, Nelly; Solomon, Sean C; Izenberg, Noam R

    2010-08-01

    During MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer detected emission from ionized calcium concentrated 1 to 2 Mercury radii tailward of the planet. This measurement provides evidence for tailward magnetospheric convection of photoions produced inside the magnetosphere. Observations of neutral sodium, calcium, and magnesium above the planet's north and south poles reveal altitude distributions that are distinct for each species. A two-component sodium distribution and markedly different magnesium distributions above the two poles are direct indications that multiple processes control the distribution of even single species in Mercury's exosphere. PMID:20647427

  5. Outer Planets

    NASA Video Gallery

    Did you know that through NASA’s various satellite missions we have learned more about these planetary bodies in recent years than we knew collectively since we started to study our planets? Throu...

  6. Origin and composition of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lewis, John S.

    1988-01-01

    The predictions of the expected range of composition of Mercury at the time of its formation made on the basis of a suite of condensation-accretion models of Mercury spanning a range of condensation temperature and accretion sampling functions appropriate to Mercury are examined. It is concluded that these compositonal models can, if modified to take into account the nonselective loss of most of the silicate component of the planet during accretion, provide compositional predictions for the Weidenschilling (1978, 1980) mechanism for the accretion of a metal-rich Mercury. The silicate portion would, in this case, contain 3.6 to 4.5 percent alumina, roughly 1 percent of alkali oxides, and between 0.5 and 6 percent FeO.

  7. Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Klahr, Hubert; Brandner, Wolfgang

    2011-02-01

    1. Historical notes on planet formation Bodenheimer; 2. The formation and evolution of planetary systems Bouwman et al.; 3. Destruction of protoplanetary disks by photoevaporation Richling, Hollenbach and Yorke; 4. Turbulence in protoplanetary accretion disks Klahr, Rozyczka, Dziourkevitch, Wunsch and Johansen; 5. The origin of solids in the early solar system Trieloff and Palme; 6. Experiments on planetesimal formation Wurm and Blum; 7. Dust coagulation in protoplanetary disks Henning, Dullemond, Wolf and Dominik; 8. The accretion of giant planet cores Thommes and Duncan; 9. Planetary transits: direct vision of extrasolar planets Lecavelier des Etangs and Vidal-Madjar; 10. The core accretion - gas capture model Hubickyj; 11. Properties of exoplanets Marcy, Fischer, Butler and Vogt; 12. Giant planet formation: theories meet observations Boss; 13. From hot Jupiters to hot Neptures … and below Lovis, Mayor and Udry; 14. Disk-planet interaction and migration Masset and Kley; 15. The Brown Dwarf - planet relation Bate; 16. From astronomy to astrobiology Brandner; 17. Overview and prospective Lin.

  8. Got Mercury?

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Meyers, Valerie E.; McCoy, J. Torin; Garcia, Hector D.; James, John T.

    2009-01-01

    Many of the operational and payload lighting units used in various spacecraft contain elemental mercury. If these devices were damaged on-orbit, elemental mercury could be released into the cabin. Although there are plans to replace operational units with alternate light sources, such as LEDs, that do not contain mercury, mercury-containing lamps efficiently produce high quality illumination and may never be completely replaced on orbit. Therefore, exposure to elemental mercury during spaceflight will remain possible and represents a toxicological hazard. Elemental mercury is a liquid metal that vaporizes slowly at room temperature. However, it may be completely vaporized at the elevated operating temperatures of lamps. Although liquid mercury is not readily absorbed through the skin or digestive tract, mercury vapors are efficiently absorbed through the respiratory tract. Therefore, the amount of mercury in the vapor form must be estimated. For mercury releases from lamps that are not being operated, we utilized a study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Quality to calculate the amount of mercury vapor expected to form over a 2-week period. For longer missions and for mercury releases occurring when lamps are operating, we conservatively assumed complete volatilization of the available mercury. Because current spacecraft environmental control systems are unable to remove mercury vapors, both short-term and long-term exposures to mercury vapors are possible. Acute exposure to high concentrations of mercury vapors can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and behavioral symptoms, such as irritability and hyperactivity. Chronic exposure can result in damage to the nervous system (tremors, memory loss, insomnia, etc.) and kidneys (proteinurea). Therefore, the JSC Toxicology Group recommends that stringent safety controls and verifications (vibrational testing, etc.) be applied to any hardware that contains elemental mercury that could yield

  9. The evolution of the moon and the terrestrial planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoez, M. N.; Johnston, D. H.

    1977-01-01

    The thermal evolutions of the Moon, Mars, Venus, and Mercury were calculated theoretically starting from cosmochemical condensation models. An assortment of geological, geochemical, and geophysical data were used to constrain both the present day temperature and the thermal histories of the planets' interiors. Such data imply that the planets were heated during or shortly after formation and that all the terrestrial planets started their differentiations early in their history.

  10. The Effect of Material Properties on Dynamo Generation in Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vilim, Ryan

    2015-10-01

    In this thesis I use a three dimensional numerical dynamo model to explore the effect of novel material properties and core states on magnetic field generation in the planet Mercury, and in rocky extra-solar planets. In the first part of this work I focus on the recent evidence of pressure induced metallisation in materials which commonly comprise planetary mantles. In this scenario the materials which make up the lower mantle of a planet conduct electricity with a conductivity similar to that of iron. I show that a metallised mantle changes the way in which magnetic field is generated by providing a new source of magnetic shear between the fluid outer core and the solid mantle. I then show that this has the effect of making planetary magnetic fields more difficult to observe from Earth. The second and third parts of this work focus on the planet Mercury. First, I incorporate recent evidence of buoyancy sources mid-way through Mercury's liquid core (known as "snow zones") to show that they can explain the weak observed magnetic field of Mercury. In a second project on Mercury I test whether recent evidence of a dense solid layer at the top of Mercury's core, attributed to a solid, electrically conducting layer of FeS, could help explain Mercury's weak magnetic field. I find that the addition of this layer causes the dynamo to generate a strong, dipolar magnetic field, which does not match the observations made by the MESSENGER spacecraft.

  11. MESSENGER: Exploring Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Acuna, Mario H.; Anderson, Brian J.; Baker, Daniel N.; Koehn, Patrick L.; Korth, Haje; Levi, Stefano; Mauk, Barry H.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.

    2005-01-01

    The MESSENGER mission to Mercury offers our first opportunity to explore this planet s miniature magnetosphere since the brief flybys of Mariner 10. Mercury s magnetosphere is unique in many respects. The magnetosphere of Mercury is among the smallest in the solar system; its magnetic field typically stands off the solar wind only - 1000 to 2000 km above the surface. For this reason there are no closed drift paths for energetic particles and, hence, no radiation belts. The characteristic time scales for wave propagation and convective transport are short and kinetic and fluid modes may be coupled. Magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause may erode the subsolar magnetosphere allowing solar wind ions to impact directly the regolith. Inductive currents in Mercury s interior may act to modify the solar wind interaction by resisting changes due to solar wind pressure variations. Indeed, observations of these induction effects may be an important source of information on the state of Mercury s interior. In addition, Mercury s magnetosphere is the only one with its defining magnetic flux tubes rooted in a planetary regolith as opposed to an atmosphere with a conductive ionospheric layer. This lack of an ionosphere is probably the underlying reason for the brevity of the very intense, but short-lived, - 1-2 min, substorm-like energetic particle events observed by Mariner 10 during its first traversal of Mercury s magnetic tail. Because of Mercury s proximity to the sun, 0.3 - 0.5 AU, this magnetosphere experiences the most extreme driving forces in the solar system. All of these factors are expected to produce complicated interactions involving the exchange and re-cycling of neutrals and ions between the solar wind, magnetosphere, and regolith. The electrodynamics of Mercury s magnetosphere are expected to be equally complex, with strong forcing by the solar wind, magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause and in the tail, and the pick-up of planetary ions all

  12. Design and Performance Measurement of the Mercury Laser Altimeter

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sun, Xiao-Li; Cavanaugh, John F.; Smith, James C.; Bartels, Arlin E.

    2004-01-01

    We report the design and test results of the Mercury Laser Altimeter on MESSENGER mission to be launched in May 2004. The altimeter will provide planet surface topography measurements via laser pulse time of flight.

  13. Plane Mercury librations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barkin, Yu. V.; Ferrandiz, J. M.

    2009-04-01

    Introduction. In 1988 I. Kholin [1] has developed a precision method of determination of parameters of rotation of planets on complex radar-tracking observations on two radio telescopes making base and definitely carried on surface of the Earth. His American colleagues for the period approximately in 4 with small year have executed a series of radar-tracking measurements on a method and I. Kholin's program [2] and have obtained for the specified period 21 values of angular velocity of rotation of this planet [3]. With the help of numerical integration of the equations of rotary motion on the found values they managed to determine with high accuracy the basic dynamic parameter in the theory of Mercury librations (B - A)•Cm = (2.03± 0.12) × 10-4 and the corresponding to it the value of amplitude of the basic librations35"8 ± 2"1. These results have served as convincing arguments for the benefit of the Peale's assumption, that a core of Mercury is liquid, or in partially molten [4]. Authors also managed to obtain for the first time parameters of resonant librations in a longitude which opening from radar observations was predicted earlier [5]. Its amplitude makes about 300", the period is equal approximately to 12 years. In the paper [6] parameters of the perturbed rotational motion have been determined with the help of the analytical theory and with formal using of results of mentioned work [3] on determination of 21 values of angular velocity of Mercury. In result the estimations of amplitudes of forced librations of first five harmonics with the periods: 87.97 d, 43.99 d, 29.33 d, 21.99 d and 17.59 d have been obtained. The appropriate amplitudes make values:34"05 ± 1"27, 3"59 ± 0"13, 0"354 ± 0"013, 0"072 ± 0"003 and 0"016 ± 0"001. The amplitude and the period of free librations of Mercury in a longitude are determined: 290"9 ± 67"0 and 12.37 ± 0.23 yr, consequently. The phase of this variation has made28401 ± 1402. In the paper we construct the similar

  14. Microlensing Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gould, Andrew

    The theory and practice of microlensing planet searches is developed in a systematic way, from an elementary treatment of the deflection of light by a massive body to a thorough discussion of the most recent results. The main concepts of planetary microlensing, including microlensing events, finite-source effects, and microlens parallax, are first introduced within the simpler context of point-lens events. These ideas are then applied to binary (and hence planetary) lenses and are integrated with concepts specific to binaries, including caustic topologies, orbital motion, and degeneracies, with an emphasis on analytic understanding. The most important results from microlensing planet searches are then reviewed, with emphasis both on understanding the historical process of discovery and the means by which scientific conclusions were drawn from light-curve analysis. Finally, the future prospects of microlensing planets searches are critically evaluated. Citations to original works provide the reader with multiple entry points into the literature.

  15. BepiColombo: Exploring Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Geelen, K.; Novara, M.; Fugger, S.; Benkhoff, J.

    2014-04-01

    BepiColombo is an interdisciplinary mission to explore Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, carried out jointly between the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. The mission consists of two orbiters dedicated to the detailed study of the planet and of its magnetosphere, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The MPO is ESA's scientific contribution to the mission and comprises 11 science instruments. It is a three-axis-stabilized, nadir-pointing spacecraft which will be placed in a polar orbit with a period of approximately 2.3 hours, a periapsis of 480 km and an apoapsis of 1500 km, providing excellent spatial resolution over the entire planet surface. The interplanetary transfer is performed by an Electric Propulsion Module, which is jettisoned when Mercury is reached. It will set off in July 2016 on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System. When it arrives at Mercury in January 2024, it will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during its 1 year nominal mission, with a possible 1-year extension. The difficulty of reaching, surviving and operating in the harsh environment of a planet so close to the sun, makes BepiColombo one of the most challenging planetary projects undertaken by ESA so far. A range of major challenges need to be overcome to enable the mission including the electric propulsion system, development of a new Multi-Layer Insulation able to withstand the high temperatures, an original solar panel design, stringent pointing requirements to be maintained in extreme conditions varying from a solar flux of 10 solar constants to eclipse conditions etc. The scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide the detailed information necessary to understand the origin and evolution of the planet itself and its surrounding environment. The scientific objectives focus on a global characterization of Mercury through the

  16. Mariner 10 mercury encounter.

    PubMed

    Dunne, J A

    1974-07-12

    Mariner 10's closet approach to Mercury on 29 March 1974 occurred on the dark side of the planet at a range of approximately 700 kilometers. The spacecraft trajectory passed through the shadows of both the sun and Earth. Experiments conducted included magnetic fields, plasma and charged particle studies of the solar wind interaction region, television photography, extreme ultraviolet spectroscopy of the atmosphere, the detection of infrared thermal radiation from the surface, and a dual-frequency radio occultation in search of an ionosphere. PMID:17810505

  17. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Geologic map analyses: Correlation of geologic and cratering histories. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Geologic map analyses are expanded, beginning with a discussion of particular regions which may illustrate volcanic and ballistic plains emplacement on Mercury. Major attention is focused on the surface history of Mercury through discussion of the areal distribution of plains and craters and the paleogeologic maps of the first quadrant. A summary of the lunar intercrater plains formation similarly interrelates the information from the Moon's geologic and cratering histories.

  18. Mercury: the dark-side temperature.

    PubMed

    Murdock, T L; Ney, E P

    1970-10-30

    The planet Mercury was observed before, during, and after the inferior conjunctions of 29 September 1969 and 9 May 1970 at wavelengths of 3.75, 4.75, 8.6, and 12 microns. The average dark-side temperature is 111 degrees +/- 3 degrees K. The thermal inertia of the surface required to fit this temperature is close to that for the moon and indicates that Mercury and the moon have very similar top surface layers. PMID:17799708

  19. Pluto: Planet or "Dwarf Planet"?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Voelzke, M. R.; de Araújo, M. S. T.

    2010-09-01

    In August 2006 during the XXVI General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), taken place in Prague, Czech Republic, new parameters to define a planet were established. According to this new definition Pluto will be no more the ninth planet of the Solar System but it will be changed to be a "dwarf planet". This reclassification of Pluto by the academic community clearly illustrates how dynamic science is and how knowledge of different areas can be changed and evolves through the time, allowing to perceive Science as a human construction in a constant transformation, subject to political, social and historical contexts. These epistemological characteristics of Science and, in this case, of Astronomy, constitute important elements to be discussed in the lessons, so that this work contributes to enable Science and Physics teachers who perform a basic education to be always up to date on this important astronomical fact and, thereby, carry useful information to their teaching.

  20. Binary Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ryan, Keegan; Nakajima, Miki; Stevenson, David J.

    2014-11-01

    Can a bound pair of similar mass terrestrial planets exist? We are interested here in bodies with a mass ratio of ~ 3:1 or less (so Pluto/Charon or Earth/Moon do not qualify) and we do not regard the absence of any such discoveries in the Kepler data set to be significant since the tidal decay and merger of a close binary is prohibitively fast well inside of 1AU. SPH simulations of equal mass “Earths” were carried out to seek an answer to this question, assuming encounters that were only slightly more energetic than parabolic (zero energy). We were interested in whether the collision or near collision of two similar mass bodies would lead to a binary in which the two bodies remain largely intact, effectively a tidal capture hypothesis though with the tidal distortion being very large. Necessarily, the angular momentum of such an encounter will lead to bodies separated by only a few planetary radii if capture occurs. Consistent with previous work, mostly by Canup, we find that most impacts are disruptive, leading to a dominant mass body surrounded by a disk from which a secondary forms whose mass is small compared to the primary, hence not a binary planet by our adopted definition. However, larger impact parameter “kissing” collisions were found to produce binaries because the dissipation upon first encounter was sufficient to provide a bound orbit that was then rung down by tides to an end state where the planets are only a few planetary radii apart. The long computational times for these simulation make it difficult to fully map the phase space of encounters for which this outcome is likely but the indications are that the probability is not vanishingly small and since planetary encounters are a plausible part of planet formation, we expect binary planets to exist and be a non-negligible fraction of the larger orbital radius exoplanets awaiting discovery.

  1. Mpo - the Bepicolombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benkhoff, J.

    2008-09-01

    Introduction: BepiColombo is an interdisciplinary mission to explore the planet Mercury through a partnership between ESA and Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). From their dedicated orbits two spacecrafts, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), will be studying the planet and its environment Both orbiter will be launched together on an ARIANE 5. The launch is foreseen for Summer 2014 with arrival in Summer 2020. Solar electric propulsion will be used for the journey to Mercury. In November 2004, the BepiColombo scientific payload has been officially approved. Payload of BepiColombo: The MPO scientific payload comprises eleven instruments/instrument packages; the MMO scientific payload consists of five instruments/instrument packages. Together, the scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide the detailed information necessary to understand Mercury and its magnetospheric environment and to find clues to the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star. The MPO will focus on a global characterization of Mercury through the investigation of its interior, surface, exosphere and magnetosphere. In addition, it will be testing Einstein's theory of general relativity. Major effort was put into optimizing the scientific return by defining the payload complement such that individual measurements can be interrelated and complement each other. A detailed overview of the status of BepiColombo will be given with special emphasis on the MPO and its payload complement. BepiColombo factsheet BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury, the innermost planet of the Solar System, and ESA's first science mission in collaboration with Japan. A satellite 'duo' - consisting of an orbiter for planetary investigation and one for magnetospheric studies - Bepi- Colombo will reach Mercury after a six-year journey towards the inner Solar System, to make the most extensive and detailed study of the planet ever performed

  2. Optical system design and integration of the mercury laser altimeter.

    PubMed

    Ramos-Lzquierdo, Luis; Scott, V Stanley; Schmidt, Stephen; Britt, Jamie; Mamakos, William; Trunzo, Raymond; Cavanaugh, John; Miller, Roger

    2005-03-20

    The Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), developed for the 2004 MESSENGER mission to Mercury, is designed to measure the planet's topography by laser ranging. A description of the MLA optical system and its measured optical performance during instrument-level and spacecraft-level integration and testing are presented. PMID:15813279

  3. Optical System Design and Integration of the Mercury Laser Altimeter

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ramos-Izquierdo, Luis; Scott, V. Stanley, III; Schmidt, Stephen; Britt, Jamie; Mamakos, William; Trunzo, Raymond; Cavanaugh, John; Miller, Roger

    2005-01-01

    The Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA). developed for the 2004 MESSENGER mission to Mercury, is designed to measure the planet's topography via laser ranging. A description of the MLA optical system and its measured optical performance during instrument-level and spacecraft-level integration and testing are presented.

  4. Recent geologic activity on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xiao, Z.; Strom, R. G.; Blewett, D. T.; Solomon, S. C.; Head, J. W.; Watters, T. R.; Chabot, N. L.; Banks, M. E.; Chapman, C. R.

    2011-12-01

    Since the MESSENGER spacecraft was inserted into orbit about Mercury in March 2011, global and targeted high-resolution image data sets have been acquired. These images support the conclusion that internal geological activity on Mercury did not end early in planetary history, as had generally been previously thought, but continued to geologically recent times. Three lines of evidence point to recent geological activity on Mercury. (1) There are smooth plains with surface areas up to 1.5×105 km2 that postdate young (morphological class 1) craters, indicating probable Kuiperian-aged volcanism. No volcanic vents, fissures, or flow fronts have been identified on these plains, suggesting that they are products of low-viscosity lavas, consistent with komatiite-like compositions of large areas on Mercury indicated by MESSENGER X-Ray Spectrometer observations. (2) Young lobate scarps transect class 1 craters as large as 30 km in diameter, indicating comparably recent crustal contraction. (3) A number of fresh-appearing, high-reflectance, irregularly shaped and rimless shallow depressions interpreted as pyroclastic vents have few superposed craters, suggesting that they have been recently active. Growing evidence from geological and geochemical observations indicates that Mercury's interior contains a higher abundance of volatile materials than was previously appreciated. Together these findings support the inference that Mercury experienced relatively recent volcanism and tectonic deformation, and the possibility that the planet is geologically active today cannot be discounted.

  5. MESSENGER'S First and Second Flybys of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.

    2009-01-01

    The MESSENGER mission to Mercury offers our first opportunity to explore this planet's miniature magnetosphere since Mariner 10's brief fly-bys in 1974-5. The magnetosphere of Mercury is the smallest in the solar system with its magnetic field typically standing off the solar wind only approximately 1000 km above the surface. An overview of the MESSENGER mission and its January 14th and October 6th, 2008 close flybys of Mercury will be provided. Primary science objectives and the science instrumentation will be described. Initial results from MESSENGER will be discussed with an emphasis on the magnetic field and charged particle measurements.

  6. The Plasma Environment at Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Raines, James M.; Gershman, Daniel J.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.; Gloeckler, George; Slavin, James A.; Anderson, Brian J.; Korth, Haje; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Killen, Rosemary M.; Sarantos, Menalos; Sprague, Anne L.; McNutt, Ralph L., Jr.

    2011-01-01

    Mercury is the least explored terrestrial planet, and the one subjected to the highest flux of solar radiation in the heliosphere. Its highly dynamic, miniature magnetosphere contains ions from the exosphere and solar wind, and at times may allow solar wind ions to directly impact the planet's surface. Together these features create a plasma environment that shares many features with, but is nonetheless very different from, that of Earth. The first in situ measurements of plasma ions in the Mercury space environment were made only recently, by the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) during the MESSENGER spacecraft's three flybys of the planet in 2008-2009 as the probe was en route to insertion into orbit about Mercury earlier this year. Here. we present analysis of flyby and early orbital mission data with novel techniques that address the particular challenges inherent in these measurements. First. spacecraft structures and sensor orientation limit the FIPS field of view and allow only partial sampling of velocity distribution functions. We use a software model of FIPS sampling in velocity space to explore these effects and recover bulk parameters under certain assumptions. Second, the low densities found in the Mercury magnetosphere result in a relatively low signal-to-noise ratio for many ions. To address this issue, we apply a kernel density spread function to guide removal of background counts according to a background-signature probability map. We then assign individual counts to particular ion species with a time-of-flight forward model, taking into account energy losses in the carbon foil and other physical behavior of ions within the instrument. Using these methods, we have derived bulk plasma properties and heavy ion composition and evaluated them in the context of the Mercury magnetosphere.

  7. Effective resonant stability of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lhotka, Christoph; Sansottera, Marco; Lemaitre, Anne

    2016-04-01

    Mercury is the unique known planet that is situated in a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance nowadays. Observations and models converge to the same conclusion: the planet is presently deeply trapped in the resonance and situated at the Cassini state 1, or very close to it. We investigate the complete non-linear stability of this equilibrium, with respect to several physical parameters, in the framework of Birkhoff normal form and Nekhoroshev stability theory. We use the same approach adopted for the 1:1 spin-orbit case, published in Sansottera et al. (2014), with a peculiar attention to the role of Mercury's non negligible eccentricity. The selected parameters are the polar moment of inertia, the Mercury's inclination and eccentricity and the precession rates of the perihelion and node. Our study produces a bound to both the latitudinal and longitudinal librations (of 0.1 radians) for a long but finite time (greatly exceeding the age of the solar system). This is the so-called effective stability time. Our conclusion is that Mercury, placed inside the 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, occupies a very stable position in the space of these physical parameters, but not the most stable possible one.

  8. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Remote sensing and physical data and the Moon. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    Imagery data from Mariner 10 and Lunar Orbiter IV form the major base of observations analyzed. But a variety of other information aids in constraining the composition and structure of the Moon and Mercury, and in particular, provides input to the problem of the nature and origin of their intercrater plains. This information for Mercury is remotely sensed from Earth or from the Mariner 10 spacecraft. Lunar data includes, of course, ground truth information from the Apollo landing sites. Since neither intercrater region was sampled, lunar and Mercurian data are similar in type and limitations. Constraints on surface and interior composition and structure are reviewed.

  9. Return to Mercury: a global perspective on MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby.

    PubMed

    Solomon, Sean C; McNutt, Ralph L; Watters, Thomas R; Lawrence, David J; Feldman, William C; Head, James W; Krimigis, Stamatios M; Murchie, Scott L; Phillips, Roger J; Slavin, James A; Zuber, Maria T

    2008-07-01

    In January 2008, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft became the first probe to fly past the planet Mercury in 33 years. The encounter revealed that Mercury is a dynamic system; its liquid iron-rich outer core is coupled through a dominantly dipolar magnetic field to the surface, exosphere, and magnetosphere, all of which interact with the solar wind. MESSENGER images confirm that lobate scarps are the dominant tectonic landform and record global contraction associated with cooling of the planet. The history of contraction can be related to the history of volcanism and cratering, and the total contractional strain is at least one-third greater than inferred from Mariner 10 images. On the basis of measurements of thermal neutrons made during the flyby, the average abundance of iron in Mercury's surface material is less than 6% by weight. PMID:18599768

  10. Collisional Evolution of Terrestrial Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Agnor, C.; Asphaug, E.

    2004-12-01

    The terrestrial planets are generally thought to have formed via the collisional accumulation of rocky bodies. The characteristics of the planets produced by this process are, to a large degree, determined by their collisional evolution, and their associated differentiation and thermal evolution. Studies of planet formation and planetary collisional evolution have typically been conducted separately. Most works of late-stage planet formation use perfectly inelastic mergers to model collisions (e.g. Agnor, Canup & Levison 1999, Chambers 2001, Levison & Agnor 2003), with certain recognized inadequacies, notably prohibitively large spin angular momentum acquired as a planet grows. To date, studies of the collisional evolution of terrestrial planets has focused on determining the efficacy of single impacts to account for particular planetary characteristics and the formation of satellites (e.g. Benz et al. 1988, Canup & Asphaug 2001, Canup 2004). It has been recognized for some time (Wetherill 1985) that the final characteristics (e.g. spin state, bulk composition, isotopic age) of an accreting planet are determined not by the last or single largest collision but by all of the major collisional encounters in a planet's history (Agnor, Canup & Levison 1999). As demonstrated by our impact models, each major impact changes the silicate to metal ratio, the thermal state, and the spin state, and sets the stage for the subsequent collision. We are studying collisional dynamics and outcomes common to the late stage of terrestrial planet formation. We use smooth particle hydrodynamics model collisions in an effort to identify the range of impact dynamics that allow for accretion (i.e. mass growth instead of mass loss). In our initial study we found that for dynamical environments typical of most late stage accretion models, about half of all collisions between equal mass planetary embryos do not result in accumulation into a larger embryo (Agnor & Asphaug 2004). We will

  11. Extrasolar Planets and Prospects for Terrestrial Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Marcy, Geoffrey W.; Butler, R. Paul; Vogt, Steven S.; Fischer, Debra A.

    2004-06-01

    Examination of ˜2000 sun--like stars has revealed 97 planets (as of 2002 Nov), all residing within our Milky Way Galaxy and within ˜200 light years of our Solar System. They have masses between 0.1 and 10 times that of Jupiter, and orbital sizes of 0.05--5 AU. Thus planets occupy the entire detectable domain of mass and orbits. News &summaries about extrasolar planets are provided at: http://exoplanets.org. These planets were all discovered by the wobble of the host stars, induced gravitationally by the planets, causing a periodicity in the measured Doppler effect of the starlight. Earth--mass planets remain undetectable, but space--based missions such as Kepler, COROT and SIM may provide detections of terrestrial planets within the next decade. The number of planets increases with decreasing planet mass, indicating that nature makes more small planets than jupiter--mass planets. Extrapolation, though speculative, bodes well for an even larger number of earth--mass planets. These observations and the theory of planet formation suggests that single sun--like stars commonly harbor earth--sized rocky planets, as yet undetectable. The number of planets increases with increasing orbital distance from the host star, and most known planets reside in non--circular orbits. Many known planets reside in the habitable zone (albeit being gas giants) and most newly discovered planets orbit beyond 1 AU from their star. A population of Jupiter--like planets may reside at 5--10 AU from stars, not easily detectable at present. The sun--like star 55 Cancri harbors a planet of 4--10 Jupiter masses orbiting at 5.5 AU in a low eccentricity orbit, the first analog of our Jupiter, albeit with two large planets orbiting inward. To date, 10 multiple--planet systems have been discovered, with four revealing gravitational interactions between the planets in the form of resonances. GJ 876 has two planets with periods of 1 and 2 months. Other planetary systems are ``hierarchical'', consisting

  12. The study Earth-like planets using spacecraft

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vidmachenko, A. P.; Morozhenko, O. V.

    2014-10-01

    The Solar system consists of the Sun, large (classical), dwarf, small planets and their satellites, comets, meteoroids, small meteoritic particles and dust grains. The eight classical planets are divided into terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) and giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune). The main components of the Earth-like planets atmospheres are nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The formation of the terrestrial planets' traced in some detail, calculated the distance between the planets, their mass, orbital period around the Sun, the inclination of the axis satisfactorily agree with observational data. Terrestrial planets have much in common: small size and weight, the average density is several times greater than the density of water, slow rotation around its axis, few satellites or lack thereof, hard surface and so on. There are volcanoes on Venus, Earth and Mars, and in the surface layers of all four planets more or less traces of tectonic activity (mountain building processes) and intense meteorite bombardment as one of the main factors of the Mars and Mercury surface formation. On Earth meteor crater almost completely obliterated by tectonic and erosional processes while they survived much better on Venus.

  13. Mercury's Exosphere During MESSENGER's Second Flyby: Detection of Magnesium and Distinct Distributions of Neutral Species

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McClintock, William E.; Vervack, Ronald J., Jr.; Bradley, E. Todd; Killen, Rosemary M.; Mouawad, Nelly; Sprague, Ann L.; Burger, Matthew H.; Solomon, Sean C.; Izenberg, Noam R.

    2009-01-01

    During MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby, the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer observed emission from Mercury's neutral exosphere. These observations include the first detection of emission from magnesium. Differing spatial distributions for sodium, calcium, and magnesium were revealed by observations beginning in Mercury's tail region, approximately 8 Mercury radii anti-sunward of the planet, continuing past the nightside, and ending near the dawn terminator. Analysis of these observations, supplemented by observations during the first Mercury flyby as well as those by other MESSENGER instruments, suggests that the distinct spatial distributions arise from a combination of differences in source, transfer, and loss processes.

  14. Mariner Venus Mercury, 1973. [close flyby investigation of mercury after Venus-flyby, and observation of Kohoutek comet

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilson, J. H.

    1973-01-01

    The Mariner Venus Mercury 1973 unmanned mission is discussed, which is designed to conduct a close flyby investigation of the planet Mercury after using the gravity-turn technique in a Venus flyby. Its scientific purposes include photographic, thermal, and spectral surveys, radio occulation, and charged particle/magnetic measurements at each planet, observation of solar-system fields and particles from 1.0 a.u. down to 0.4 a.u., and comparative planetary surveys between the Earth, the Moon, Venus, and Mercury. It is also intended to observe Kohoutek's comet. The trajectory permits establishment of a solar orbit in phase with Mercury's, permitting repeated encounters with that planet.

  15. Mercury: infrared evidence for nonsynchronous rotation.

    PubMed

    Soter, S L

    1966-09-01

    An infrared observation of the dark side of Mercury made by Pettit and Nicholson in 1923 led them to suggest that the planet rotates nonsynchronously. Their early measurements, if taken at face value, would imply a brightness temperature of about 180 degrees K for the dark side. The asymmetry of the infrared phase curve is further interpreted as suggesting direct rotation. PMID:17737592

  16. Magnetic field structure of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hiremath, K. M.

    2012-04-01

    Recently planet Mercury - an unexplored territory in our solar system - has been of much interest to the scientific community due to recent flybys of the spacecraft MESSENGER that discovered its intrinsic stationary and large-scale dipole like magnetic field structure with an intensity of ˜300nT confirming Mariner 10 observations. In the present study, with the observed constraint of Mercury's atmospheric magnetic field structure, internal magnetic field structure is modeled as a solution of magnetic diffusion equation. In this study, Mercury's internal structure mainly consists of a stable stratified fluid core and the convective mantle. For simplicity, magnetic diffusivity in both parts of the structure is considered to be uniform and constant with a value represented by a suitable averages. It is further assumed that vigorous convection in the mantle disposes of the electric currents leading to a very high diffusivity in that region. Thus, in order to satisfy observed atmospheric magnetic field structure, Mercury's most likely magnetic field structure consists of a solution of MHD diffusion equation in the core and a combined multipolar (dipole and quadrupole like magnetic field structures embedded in the uniform field) solution of a current free like magnetic field structure in the mantle and in the atmosphere. With imposition of appropriate boundary conditions at the core-mantle boundary for the first two diffusion eigen modes, in order to satisfy the observed field structure, present study puts the constraint on Mercury's core radius to be ˜2000km. From the estimated magnetic diffusivity and the core radius, it is also possible to estimate the two diffusion eigen modes with their diffusion time scales of ˜8.6 and 3.7 billion years respectively suggesting that the planet inherits its present-day magnetic field structure from the solar Nebula. It is proposed that permanency of such a large-scale magnetic field structure of the planet is attained during

  17. Planet Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Afonso, Isabel

    2014-05-01

    A more adequate name for Planet Earth could be Planet Ocean, seeing that ocean water covers more than seventy percent of the planet's surface and plays a fundamental role in the survival of almost all living species. Actually, oceans are aqueous solutions of extraordinary importance due to its direct implications in the current living conditions of our planet and its potential role on the continuity of life as well, as long as we know how to respect the limits of its immense but finite capacities. We may therefore state that natural aqueous solutions are excellent contexts for the approach and further understanding of many important chemical concepts, whether they be of chemical equilibrium, acid-base reactions, solubility and oxidation-reduction reactions. The topic of the 2014 edition of GIFT ('Our Changing Planet') will explore some of the recent complex changes of our environment, subjects that have been lately included in Chemistry teaching programs. This is particularly relevant on high school programs, with themes such as 'Earth Atmosphere: radiation, matter and structure', 'From Atmosphere to the Ocean: solutions on Earth and to Earth', 'Spring Waters and Public Water Supply: Water acidity and alkalinity'. These are the subjects that I want to develop on my school project with my pupils. Geographically, our school is located near the sea in a region where a stream flows into the sea. Besides that, our school water comes from a borehole which shows that the quality of the water we use is of significant importance. This project will establish and implement several procedures that, supported by physical and chemical analysis, will monitor the quality of water - not only the water used in our school, but also the surrounding waters (stream and beach water). The samples will be collected in the borehole of the school, in the stream near the school and in the beach of Carcavelos. Several physical-chemical characteristics related to the quality of the water will

  18. Geodesy at Mercury with MESSENGER

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria t.; Peale, Stanley J.; Phillips, Roger J.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2006-01-01

    In 2011 the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft will enter Mercury orbit and begin the mapping phase of the mission. As part of its science objectives the MESSENGER mission will determine the shape and gravity field of Mercury. These observations will enable the topography and the crustal thickness to be derived for the planet and will determine the small libration of the planet about its axis, the latter critical to constraining the state of the core. These measurements require very precise positioning of the MESSENGER spacecraft in its eccentric orbit, which has a periapsis altitude as low as 200 km, an apoapsis altitude near 15,000 km, and a closest approach to the surface varying from latitude 60 to about 70 N. The X-band tracking of MESSENGER and the laser altimetry are the primary data that will be used to measure the planetary shape and gravity field. The laser altimeter, which has an expected range of 1000 to 1200 km, is expected to provide significant data only over the northern hemisphere because of MESSENGER's eccentric orbit. For the southern hemisphere, radio occultation measurements obtained as the spacecraft passes behind the planet as seen from Earth and images obtained with the imaging system will be used to provide the long-wavelength shape of the planet. Gravity, derived from the tracking data, will also have greater resolution in the northern hemisphere, but full global models for both topography and gravity will be obtained at low harmonic order and degree. The limiting factor for both gravity and topography is expected to be knowledge of the spacecraft location. Present estimations are that in a combined tracking, altimetry, and occultation solution the spacecraft position uncertainty is likely to be of order 10 m. This accuracy should be adequate for establishing an initial geodetic coordinate system for Mercury that will enable positioning of imaged features on the surface, determination of

  19. The Cambridge photographic atlas of the planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Briggs, G.; Taylor, F.

    1982-01-01

    The origin of the solar systems is considered along with the formation of the planets, the evolution of the planets, the surfaces of solid planets, and the atmosphere of the planets. A description is provided of the various planets of the solar system. It is pointed out that Mercury was little known until March 1974 when the Mariner 10 spacecraft made the first of its three flybys of that body. In the case of Venus, the Pioneer mission to Venus by NASA in 1978 provided a breakthrough concerning a knowledge of the solid body hidden beneath the clouds. The characteristics of the planet earth are discussed together with information about the moon. A shaded relief map of Mars illustrates the geographic features of this planet. The map was produced with the aid of Mariner 9 photographs. Maps of the Jovian system based on photographs provided by space missions are also presented, and the Saturnian system is discussed, taking into account major satellites and rings of Saturn.

  20. The magnetic field of Mercury, part 1

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ness, N. F.; Behannon, K. W.; Lepping, R. P.; Whang, Y. C.

    1974-01-01

    An updated analysis and interpretation is presented of the magnetic field observations obtained during the Mariner 10 encounter with the planet Mercury. The combination of data relating to position of the detached bow shock wave and magnetopause, and the geometry and magnitude of the magnetic field within the magnetosphere-like region surrounding Mercury, lead to the conclusion that an internal planetary field exists with dipole moment approximately 5.1 x 10 the 22nd power Gauss sq cm. The dipole axis has a polarity sense similar to earth's and is tilted 7 deg from the normal to Mercury's orbital plane. The magnetic field observations reveal a significant distortion of the modest Hermean field (350 Gamma at the equator) by the solar wind flow and the formation of a magnetic tail and neutral sheet which begins close to the planet on the night side. The composite data is not consistent with a complex induction process driven by the solar wind flow.

  1. Mercury radar imaging: evidence for polar ice.

    PubMed

    Slade, M A; Butler, B J; Muhleman, D O

    1992-10-23

    The first unambiguous full-disk radar mapping of Mercury at 3.5-centimeter wavelength, with the Goldstone 70-meter antenna transmitting and 26 antennas of the Very Large Array receiving, has provided evidence for the presence of polar ice. The radar experiments, conducted on 8 and 23 August 1991, were designed to image the half of Mercury not photographed by Mariner 10. The orbital geometry allowed viewing beyond the north pole of Mercury; a highly reflective region was clearly visible on the north pole during both experiments. This polar region has areas in which the circular polarization ratio (pt) was 1.0 to 1.4; values < approximately 0.1 are typical for terrestrial planets. Such high values of have hitherto been observed in radar observations only from icy regions of Mars and icy outer planet satellites. PMID:17748898

  2. Mercury - A post-Mariner 10 assessment

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Storm, R. G.

    1979-01-01

    The paper reviews the analyses of the imagery since the Mariner 10 flight, and considers the implications for the surface evolution of the terrestrial planets. Mercury is probably differentiated into a large iron-rich core and a thin silicate mantle. It differs from the moon by having (1) large areas of old intercrater plains, (2) a wide-spread distribution of lobate scarps, and (3) a similar albedo between young smooth plains and the older mercurian highlands. The origin of Mercury's plains and lobate scarps is discussed, and it is concluded that the crater diameter density distribution on the moon, Mars, and Mercury indicates that all the terrestrial planets experienced intense bombardment early in their histories, and that the objects responsible for this bombardment probably belonged to the same population(s).

  3. Messenger Observations of Mercury's Bow Shock and Magnetopause

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin J. A.; Acuna, M. H.; Anderson, B. J.; Benna, M.; Gloeckler, G.; Krimigis, S. M.; Raines, M.; Schriver, D.; Travnicek, P.; Zurbuchen, T. H.

    2008-01-01

    The MESSENGER spacecraft made the first of three flybys of Mercury on January 14.2008 (1). New observations of solar wind interaction with Mercury were made with MESSENGER'S Magnetometer (MAG) (2.3) and Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) - composed of the Energetic Particle Spectrometer (EPS) and Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) (3,4). These MESSENGER observations show that Mercury's magnetosphere has a large-scale structure that is distinctly Earth-like, but it is immersed in a comet-like cloud of planetary ions [5]. Fig. 1 provides a schematic view of the coupled solar wind - magnetosphere - neutral atmosphere - solid planet system at Mercury.

  4. Chemical composition of Earth, Venus, and Mercury

    PubMed Central

    Morgan, John W.; Anders, Edward

    1980-01-01

    Model compositions of Earth, Venus, and Mercury are calculated from the premise that planets and chondrites underwent four identical fractionation processes in the solar nebula. Because elements of similar properties stay together in these processes, five constraints suffice to define the composition of a planet: mass of the core, abundance of U, and the ratios K/U, Tl/U, and FeO/(FeO + MgO). Complete abundance tables, and normative mineralogies, are given for all three planets. Review of available data shows only a few gross trends for the inner planets: FeO decreases with heliocentric distance, whereas volatiles are depleted and refractories are enriched in the smaller planets. Images PMID:16592930

  5. Chemical composition of earth, Venus, and Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Morgan, J. W.; Anders, E.

    1980-01-01

    Model compositions of the earth, Venus, and Mercury are calculated from the premise that planets and chondrites underwent four identical fractionation processes in the solar nebula. Because elements of similar properties stay together in these processes, five constraints suffice to define the composition of a planet: mass of the core, abundance of U, and the ratios K/U, TI/U, and FeO/(FeO + MgO). Complete abundance tables, and normative mineralogies, are given for all three planets. A review of available data shows only a few gross trends for the inner planets: FeO decreases with heliocentric distance, whereas volatiles are depleted and refractories are enriched in the smaller planets.

  6. Chemical composition of Earth, Venus, and Mercury.

    PubMed

    Morgan, J W; Anders, E

    1980-12-01

    Model compositions of Earth, Venus, and Mercury are calculated from the premise that planets and chondrites underwent four identical fractionation processes in the solar nebula. Because elements of similar properties stay together in these processes, five constraints suffice to define the composition of a planet: mass of the core, abundance of U, and the ratios K/U, Tl/U, and FeO/(FeO + MgO). Complete abundance tables, and normative mineralogies, are given for all three planets. Review of available data shows only a few gross trends for the inner planets: FeO decreases with heliocentric distance, whereas volatiles are depleted and refractories are enriched in the smaller planets. PMID:16592930

  7. Magnetic fields of the terrestrial planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Russell, C. T.

    1993-01-01

    The four terrestrial planets, together with the Earth's Moon, provide a significant range of conditions under which dynamo action could occur. All five bodies have been visited by spacecraft, and from three of the five bodies (Earth, Moon and Mars) we have samples of planetary material upon which paleomagnetic studies have been undertaken. At the present time, only the Earth and Mercury appear to have a significant dipole magnetic field. However, the Moon, and possibly Mars, appear to have had ancient planetary dynamos. Venus does not now have a significant planetary magnetic field, and the high surface temperatures should have prevented the recording of evidence of any ancient magnetic field. Since the solidification of the solid inner core is thought to be the energy source for the terrestrial magnetic field, and since smaller bodies evolve thermally more rapidly than larger bodies, we conjecture that the terrestrial planets are today in three different phases of magnetic activity. Venus is in a predynamo phase, not having cooled to the point of core solidification. Mercury and the Earth are in the middle of their dynamo phase, with Mercury perhaps near the end of its activity. Mars and the Moon seem to be well past their dynamo phase. Much needs to be done in the study of the magnetism of the terrestrial planets. We need to characterize the multipole harmonic structure of the Mercury magnetic field plus its secular variation, and we need to analyze returned samples to attempt to unfold the long-term history of Mercury's dynamo. We need to more thoroughly map the magnetism of the lunar surface and to analyze samples obtained from a wider area of the lunar surface. We need a more complete survey of the present Martian magnetic field and samples from a range of different ages of Martian surface material. Finally, a better characterization of the secular variation of the terrestrial magnetic field is needed in order to unfold the workings of the terrestrial dynamo.

  8. Got Mercury?

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Meyers, Valerie; James, John T.; McCoy, Torin; Garcia, Hector

    2010-01-01

    Many lamps used in various spacecraft contain elemental mercury, which is efficiently absorbed through the lungs as a vapor. The liquid metal vaporizes slowly at room temperature, but may be completely vaporized when lamps are operating. Because current spacecraft environmental control systems are unable to remove mercury vapors, we considered short-term and long-term exposures. Using an existing study, we estimated mercury vapor releases from lamps that are not in operation during missions lasting less than or equal to 30 days; whereas we conservatively assumed complete vaporization from lamps that are operating or being used during missions lasing more than 30 days. Based on mercury toxicity, the Johnson Space Center's Toxicology Group recommends stringent safety controls and verifications for any hardware containing elemental mercury that could yield airborne mercury vapor concentrations greater than 0.1 mg/m3 in the total spacecraft atmosphere for exposures lasting less than or equal to 30 days, or concentrations greater than 0.01 mg/m3 for exposures lasting more than 30 days.

  9. The intercrater plains of Mercury and the Moon: Their nature, origin and role in terrestrial planet evolution. Estimated thickness of ejecta deposits compared to to crater rim heights. Ph.D. Thesis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Leake, M. A.

    1982-01-01

    The area of the continuous ejecta deposits on mercury was calculated to vary from 2.24 to 0.64 times the crater's area for those of diameter 40 km to 300 km. Because crater boundaries on the geologic map include the detectable continuous ejecta blanket, plains exterior to these deposits must consist of farther-flung ejecta (of that or other craters), or volcanic deposits flooding the intervening areas. Ejecta models are explored.

  10. Exploring Planet Sizes

    NASA Video Gallery

    This lesson combines a series of activities to compare models of the size of Earth to other planets and the distances to other planets. Activities highlight space missions to other planets in our s...

  11. Outer planets satellites

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Morrison, D.

    1983-01-01

    The present investigation takes into account the published literature on outer planet satellites for 1979-1982. It is pointed out that all but three (the moon and the two Martian satellites) of the known planetary satellites are found in the outer solar system. Most of these are associated with the three regular satellite systems of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. The largest satellites are Titan in the Saturn system and Ganymede and Callisto in the Jupiter system. Intermediate in size between Mercury and Mars, each has a diameter of about 5000 km. Presumably each has an internal composition about 60 percent rock and 40 ice, and each is differentiated with a dense core extending out about 75 percent of the distance to the surface, with a mantle of high-pressure ice and a crust of ordinary ice perhaps 100 km thick. Attention is also given to Io, Europa, the icy satellites of Saturn, the satellites of Uranus, the small satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, Triton and the Pluto system, and plans for future studies.

  12. PLANET-PLANET SCATTERING IN PLANETESIMAL DISKS

    SciTech Connect

    Raymond, Sean N.; Armitage, Philip J.; Gorelick, Noel

    2009-07-10

    We study the final architecture of planetary systems that evolve under the combined effects of planet-planet and planetesimal scattering. Using N-body simulations we investigate the dynamics of marginally unstable systems of gas and ice giants both in isolation and when the planets form interior to a planetesimal belt. The unstable isolated systems evolve under planet-planet scattering to yield an eccentricity distribution that matches that observed for extrasolar planets. When planetesimals are included the outcome depends upon the total mass of the planets. For M {sub tot} {approx}> 1 M{sub J} the final eccentricity distribution remains broad, whereas for M {sub tot} {approx}< 1 M{sub J} a combination of divergent orbital evolution and recircularization of scattered planets results in a preponderance of nearly circular final orbits. We also study the fate of marginally stable multiple planet systems in the presence of planetesimal disks, and find that for high planet masses the majority of such systems evolve into resonance. A significant fraction leads to resonant chains that are planetary analogs of Jupiter's Galilean satellites. We predict that a transition from eccentric to near-circular orbits will be observed once extrasolar planet surveys detect sub-Jovian mass planets at orbital radii of a {approx_equal} 5-10 AU.

  13. The Giant Planet Satellite Exospheres

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McGrath, Melissa A.

    2014-01-01

    Exospheres are relatively common in the outer solar system among the moons of the gas giant planets. They span the range from very tenuous, surface-bounded exospheres (e.g., Rhea, Dione) to quite robust exospheres with exobase above the surface (e.g., lo, Triton), and include many intermediate cases (e.g., Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus). The exospheres of these moons exhibit an interesting variety of sources, from surface sputtering, to frost sublimation, to active plumes, and also well illustrate another common characteristic of the outer planet satellite exospheres, namely, that the primary species often exists both as a gas in atmosphere, and a condensate (frost or ice) on the surface. As described by Yelle et al. (1995) for Triton, "The interchange of matter between gas and solid phases on these bodies has profound effects on the physical state of the surface and the structure of the atmosphere." A brief overview of the exospheres of the outer planet satellites will be presented, including an inter-comparison of these satellites exospheres with each other, and with the exospheres of the Moon and Mercury.

  14. Imaging During MESSENGER's Second Flyby of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabot, N. L.; Prockter, L. M.; Murchie, S. L.; Robinson, M. S.; Laslo, N. R.; Kang, H. K.; Hawkins, S. E.; Vaughan, R. M.; Head, J. W.; Solomon, S. C.; MESSENGER Team

    2008-12-01

    During MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008, the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) will acquire 1287 images. The images will include coverage of about 30% of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft. A portion of the newly imaged terrain will be viewed during the inbound portion of the flyby. On the outbound leg, MDIS will image additional previously unseen terrain as well as regions imaged under different illumination geometry by Mariner 10. These new images, when combined with images from Mariner 10 and from MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby, will enable the first regional- resolution global view of Mercury constituting a combined total coverage of about 96% of the planet's surface. MDIS consists of both a Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and a Narrow Angle Camera (NAC). During MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby, the following imaging activities are planned: about 86 minutes before the spacecraft's closest pass by the planet, the WAC will acquire images through 11 different narrow-band color filters of the approaching crescent planet at a resolution of about 5 km/pixel. At slightly less than 1 hour to closest approach, the NAC will acquire a 4-column x 11-row mosaic with an approximate resolution of 450 m/pixel. At 8 minutes after closest approach, the WAC will obtain the highest-resolution multispectral images to date of Mercury's surface, imaging a portion of the surface through 11 color filters at resolutions of about 250-600 m/pixel. A strip of high-resolution NAC images, with a resolution of approximately 100 m/pixel, will follow these WAC observations. The NAC will next acquire a 15-column x 13- row high-resolution mosaic of the northern hemisphere of the departing planet, beginning approximately 21 minutes after closest approach, with resolutions of 140-300 m/pixel; this mosaic will fill a large gore in the Mariner 10 data. At about 42 minutes following closest approach, the WAC will acquire a 3x3, 11-filter, full- planet mosaic with an

  15. Thermal evolution of Mercury as constrained by MESSENGER observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Michel, Nathalie C.; Hauck, Steven A.; Solomon, Sean C.; Phillips, Roger J.; Roberts, James H.; Zuber, Maria T.

    2013-05-01

    observations of Mercury by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft provide new constraints on that planet's thermal and interior evolution. Specifically, MESSENGER observations have constrained the rate of radiogenic heat production via measurement of uranium, thorium, and potassium at the surface, and identified a range of surface compositions consistent with high-temperature, high-degree partial melts of the mantle. Additionally, MESSENGER data have placed new limits on the spatial and temporal variation in volcanic and tectonic activity and enabled determination that the planet's core is larger than previously estimated. Because Mercury's mantle layer is also thinner than previously thought, this result gives greater likelihood to the possibility that mantle convection is marginally supercritical or even that the mantle is not convecting. We simulate mantle convection and magma generation within Mercury's mantle under two-dimensional axisymmetry and a broad range of conditions to understand the implications of MESSENGER observations for the thermal evolution of the planet. These models demonstrate that mantle convection can persist in such a thin mantle for a substantial portion of Mercury's history, and often to the present, as long as the mantle is thicker than ~300 km. We also find that magma generation in Mercury's convecting mantle is capable of producing widespread magmas by large-degree partial melting, consistent with MESSENGER observations of the planet's surface chemistry and geology.

  16. Mercury Contamination

    PubMed Central

    Thompson, Marcella R.

    2013-01-01

    IN BRIEF A residential elemental mercury contamination incident in Rhode Island resulted in the evacuation of an entire apartment complex. To develop recommendations for improved response, all response-related documents were examined; personnel involved in the response were interviewed; policies and procedures were reviewed; and environmental monitoring data were compiled from specific phases of the response for analysis of effect. A significant challenge of responding to residential elemental mercury contamination lies in communicating risk to residents affected py a HazMat spill. An ongoing, open and honest dialogue is emphasized where concerns of the public are heard and addressed, particularly when establishing and/or modifying policies and procedures for responding to residential elemental mercury contamination. PMID:23436951

  17. Bepi-Colombo Mission to Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hayakawa, Hajime; Maejima, Hironori

    2012-07-01

    BepiColombo has been defined as the ESA-JAXA joint mission to Mercury with the aim to understand the process of planetary formation and evolution in the hottest part of the proto-planetary nebula as well as to understand similarities and differences between the magnetospheres of the Mercury and the Earth. The baseline mission consists of two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The two orbiters will be launched together on one Ariane5. JAXA is responsible for development and operation of MMO while ESA is responsible for development and operation of MPO and Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), launch, cruise phase operation, and Mercury orbit insertion. The main objectives of MPO are to study planet Mercury and planetary formation in the inner solar system. For this purpose, MPO is desgined as a 3-axis stabilized spacecraft and will be placed in a 400 km x 1500 km polar orbit. While the main objectives of MMO are to study Mercury's magnetic field and plasma environment around Mercury. For this purpose, MMO is designed as a spin-stabilized spacecraft and will be placed in a same orbital plane as MPO but has a 400 km x 12000 km. The orbital period of MMO and MPO is designed as 4:1 to achieve cross calibration and cooperative observations. System Critical Design Review (CDR) of MMO has been completed in November 2011 and System CDR for whole BepiColombo mission is scheduled in July 2012. Electrical Interface Check (EIC)/ Mechanical Interface Check (MIC) of MMO FM has been completed in January 2012. MMO Mechanical Test Model is transported to ESA/ESTEC to join Mercury Cruise System (MCS) level Mechianical Test which will be held in this year.

  18. Sodium Velocity Maps on Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Potter, A. E.; Killen, R. M.

    2011-01-01

    The objective of the current work was to measure two-dimensional maps of sodium velocities on the Mercury surface and examine the maps for evidence of sources or sinks of sodium on the surface. The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope and the Stellar Spectrograph were used to measure Mercury spectra that were sampled at 7 milliAngstrom intervals. Observations were made each day during the period October 5-9, 2010. The dawn terminator was in view during that time. The velocity shift of the centroid of the Mercury emission line was measured relative to the solar sodium Fraunhofer line corrected for radial velocity of the Earth. The difference between the observed and calculated velocity shift was taken to be the velocity vector of the sodium relative to Earth. For each position of the spectrograph slit, a line of velocities across the planet was measured. Then, the spectrograph slit was stepped over the surface of Mercury at 1 arc second intervals. The position of Mercury was stabilized by an adaptive optics system. The collection of lines were assembled into an images of surface reflection, sodium emission intensities, and Earthward velocities over the surface of Mercury. The velocity map shows patches of higher velocity in the southern hemisphere, suggesting the existence of sodium sources there. The peak earthward velocity occurs in the equatorial region, and extends to the terminator. Since this was a dawn terminator, this might be an indication of dawn evaporation of sodium. Leblanc et al. (2008) have published a velocity map that is similar.

  19. On volcanism and thermal tectonics on one-plate planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    1978-01-01

    For planets with a single global lithospheric shell or 'plate', the thermal evolution of the interior affects the surface geologic history through volumetric expansion and the resultant thermal stress. Interior warming of such planets gives rise to extensional tectonics and a lithospheric stress system conductive to widespread volcanism. Interior cooling leads to compressional tectonics and lithospheric stresses that act to shut off surface volcanism. On the basis of observed surface tectonics, it is concluded that the age of peak planetary volume, the degree of early heating, and the age of youngest major volcanism on the one-plate terrestrial planets likely decrease in the order Mercury, Moon, Mars.

  20. Mercury's resonant rotation from secular orbital elements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stark, Alexander; Oberst, Jürgen; Hussmann, Hauke

    2015-11-01

    We used recently produced Solar System ephemerides, which incorporate 2 years of ranging observations to the MESSENGER spacecraft, to extract the secular orbital elements for Mercury and associated uncertainties. As Mercury is in a stable 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, these values constitute an important reference for the planet's measured rotational parameters, which in turn strongly bear on physical interpretation of Mercury's interior structure. In particular, we derive a mean orbital period of (87.96934962 ± 0.00000037) days and (assuming a perfect resonance) a spin rate of (6.138506839± 0.000000028)°/day. The difference between this rotation rate and the currently adopted rotation rate (Archinal et al. in Celest Mech Dyn Astron 109(2):101-135, 2011. doi:10.1007/s10569-010-9320-4), corresponds to a longitudinal displacement of approx. 67 m per year at the equator. Moreover, we present a basic approach for the calculation of the orientation of the instantaneous Laplace and Cassini planes of Mercury. The analysis allows us to assess the uncertainties in physical parameters of the planet, when derived from observations of Mercury's rotation.

  1. First MESSENGER orbital observations of Mercury's librations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stark, Alexander; Oberst, Jürgen; Preusker, Frank; Peale, Stanton J.; Margot, Jean-Luc; Phillips, Roger J.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria T.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2015-10-01

    We have coregistered laser altimeter profiles from 3 years of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) orbital observations with stereo digital terrain models to infer the rotation parameters for the planet Mercury. In particular, we provide the first observations of Mercury's librations from orbit. We have also confirmed available estimates for the orientation of the spin axis and the mean rotation rate of the planet. We find a large libration amplitude of 38.9 ± 1.3 arc sec and an obliquity of the spin axis of 2.029 ± 0.085 arc min, results confirming that Mercury possesses a liquid outer core. The mean rotation rate is observed to be (6.13851804 ± 9.4 × 10-7)°/d (a spin period of 58.6460768 days ± 0.78 s), significantly higher than the expected resonant rotation rate. As a possible explanation we suggest that Mercury is undergoing long-period librational motion, related to planetary perturbations of its orbit.

  2. Dating tectonic structures on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Giacomini, Lorenza; Massironi, Matteo; Marchi, Simone; Cremonese, Gabriele

    2013-04-01

    Mercury is a planet dominated by contractional features at a global scale, represented mainly by lobate scarps. These structures are the expression of surface-breaking thrust faults and are linear or arcuate features widely distributed on Mercury. Since they display a broad distribution of orientations their origin is hypothesized to be related to a global contraction. By summing of the crustal shortening associated to scarps, a decreasing of the planet radius of about 1-2 km (Strom et al., 1975, JGR, 80, 2478-2507) or more (Di Achille et al., 2012, Icarus, 221, 456-460) was calculated. This process was hypothesized to occur at the edge of the Late Heavy Bombardment (≥3.8 Ga ago) (Strom et al., 1975, JGR, 80, 2478-2507; Watters and Nimmo, 2010, in Planetary tectonics, 15-80). The Messenger cameras (MDIS WAC and NAC), acquired images of new regions of the Mercury surface that allowed us to detect several new lobate scarps especially where the illumination geometry is more favorable for structural analysis (Di Achille et al., 2012, Icarus, 221, 456-460). Among these a 350 km-long thrust has been detected crossing a peak ring basin (about 186 km of diameter), located at 3°87' N and 87°17'E. The region encircled within the inner ring of the basin is covered by a smooth plain with evidence of a sin-deformational emplacement. This allowed us to give an age constrain of the tectonic structure. Indeed our preliminary crater count dates the smooth plain at 3.7-3.6 Ga fixing a straight upper limit to the contractional deformation in this sector of the planet.

  3. Mercury, elemental

    Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

    Mercury , elemental ; CASRN 7439 - 97 - 6 Human health assessment information on a chemical substance is included in the IRIS database only after a comprehensive review of toxicity data , as outlined in the IRIS assessment development process . Sections I ( Health Hazard Assessments for Noncarcinoge

  4. Questions about Mercury's role in comparative planetary geophysics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Chapman, C. R.; Weidenschilling, S. J.; Davis, D. R.; Greenberg, R.; Leake, M. A.

    1985-01-01

    Problems which have arisen in formulating a mutually consistent picture of Mercury's evolution are outlined. It appears that one or more of the following widely adopted assumptions are wrong about Mercury: (1) its original composition at least approximately resulted from equilibrium condensation; (2) its magnetic field arises from a still-active dynamo; (3) its thermal evolution should have yielded early core formation followed by cooling and a global contraction approaching 20 km in the planet's radius; (4) Mercury's surface is basaltic and the intercrater plains are of volcanic origin. It is suggested that Mercury's role in comparative planetology be reevaluated in the context of an alternative timescale based on the possibility that Mercury was subjected to a continuing source of cratering projectiles over recent aeons, which have not impacted the other terrestrial planets. Although such vulcanoids have not yet been discovered, the evolution of Mercury's orbit due to secular perturbations could well have led to a prolonged period of sweeping out any intra-Mercurian planetesimals that were originally present. Mercury's surface could be younger than previously believed, which explains why Mercury's core is still molten.

  5. Mercury: surface composition from the reflection spectrum.

    PubMed

    McCord, T B; Adams, J B

    1972-11-17

    The reflection spectrum for the integral disk of the planet Mercury was measured and was found to have a constant positive slope from 0.32 to 1.05 micrometers, except for absorption features in the infrared. The reflectivity curve matches closely the curve for the lunar upland and mare regions. Thus, the surface of Mercury is probably covered with a lunar-like soil rich in dark glasses of high iron and titanium content. Pyroxene is probably the dominant mafic mineral. PMID:17798540

  6. Television observations of Mercury by Mariner 10

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, B. C.; Belton, M. J. S.; Danielson, G. E.; Davies, M. E.; Gault, D. E.; Hapke, B.; Oleary, B.; Strom, R. G.; Suomi, V.; Trask, N.

    1974-01-01

    The morphology and optical properties of the surface of Mercury resemble that of the moon in remarkable detail, recording a very similar sequence of events; chemical and mineralogical similarity of the outer layers is implied. Mercury is probably a differentiated planet with an iron-rich core. Differentiation is inferred to have occurred very early. No evidence of atmospheric modification of any landform is found. Large-scale scarps and ridges unlike lunar or Martian features may reflect a unique period of planetary compression near the end of heavy bombardment, perhaps related to contraction of the core.

  7. Television observations of Mercury by Mariner 10

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, B. C.; Belton, M. J. S.; Danielson, E. G.; Davies, M. E.; Gault, D. E.; Hapke, B.; Oleary, B.; Strom, R. G.; Suomi, V.; Trask, N.

    1977-01-01

    The morphology and optical properties of the surface of Mercury resemble those of the Moon in remarkable detail, recording a very similar sequence of events; chemical and mineralogical similarity of the outer layers is implied. Mercury is probably a differentiated planet with an iron-rich core. Differentiation is inferred to have occurred very early. No evidence of atmospheric modification of any landform is found. Large-scale scarps and ridges unlike lunar or Martian features may reflect a unique period of planetary compression near the end of heavy bombardment, perhaps related to contraction of the core.

  8. Dating tectonic structures on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Giacomini, L.; Massironi, M.; Marchi, S.; Cremonese, G.

    2012-09-01

    Mercury surface appears to be interested by several tectonic structures, the most interesting ones being numerous lobate scarps formed mainly thanks to planet cooling and contraction. The Messenger cameras (MDIS WAC and NAC) allowed us to map several structures not previously detected. Among these a 250 km-long thrust has been detected crossing a peak ring basin. The region encircled within the inner ring of the basin is covered by a smooth plain with evidence of a sin-deformational emplacement. Dating this smooth plain with crater counting technique allowed us to give an age constrain of the tectonic structure.

  9. Mercury's Weather-Beaten Surface: Understanding Mercury in the Context of Lunar and Asteroid Space Weathering Studies

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dominque, Deborah L.; Chapman, Clark R.; Killen, Rosemary M.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.; Gilbert, Jason A.; Sarantos, Menelaos; Benna, Mehdi; Slavin, James A.; Orlando, Thomas M.; Schriver, David; Sprague, Ann L.; Blewett, David T.; Gillis-Davis, Jeffrey J.; Feldman, William C.; Lawrence, David J.; Ho, George C.; Vilas, Faith; Pieters, Carle M.; McClintock, William E.; Helbert, Jorn

    2011-01-01

    Understanding the composition of Mercury's crust is key to comprehending the formation of the planet. The regolith, derived from the crustal bedrock, has been altered via a set of space weathering processes. These processes are the same set of mechanisms that work to form Mercury's exosphere, and are moderated by the local space environment and the presence of an intrinsic planetary magnetic field. The alterations need to be understood in order to determine the initial crustal compositions. The complex interrelationships between Mercury's exospheric processes, the space environment, and surface composition are examined and reviewed. The processes are examined in the context of our understanding of these same processes on the lunar and asteroid regoliths. Keywords: Mercury (planet) Space weathering Surface processes Exosphere Surface composition Space environment 3

  10. Mercury's South Polar Region

    NASA Video Gallery

    This animation shows 89 wide-angle camera (WAC) images of Mercury’s south polar region acquired by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) over one complete Mercury solar day (176 Earth days). Thi...

  11. MERCURY IN TREE RINGS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Contamination caused by release of mercury into the environment is a growing concern. This release occurs due to a variety of anthropogenic activities and natural sources. After release, mercury undergoes complicated chemical transformations. The inorganic forms of mercury releas...

  12. The Mercury exosphere after MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Killen, Rosemary; McClintock, William; Vervack, Ronald; Merkel, Aimee; Burger, Matthew; Cassidy, Timothy; Sarantos, Menelaos

    2016-07-01

    The Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft observed sodium, calcium and magnesium emisison in Mercury's exosphere on a near-daily basis for >16 Mercury years. The MASCS observations showed that calcium in Mercury's exosphere is persistently concentrated in the dawn hemisphere and is of extreme temperature (>50,000 K). The column abundance varies seasonally, and is extremely repeatable each Mercury year. In addition, the calcium exhibits a persistent maximum not at perihelion but 20° after perihelion, an enhancement that was shown to be coincident with the probable intersection of Mercury's orbit with a dust stream originating at Comet Encke. Any mechanism producing the Mercurian Ca exosphere must explain the facts that the Ca is extremely hot, that it is seen almost exclusively on the dawnside of the planet, and that its content varies seasonally, not sporadically. Energization of the Ca atoms was suggested to originate through dissociation of Ca-bearing molecules ejected by meteoritic impacts. Magnesium was also observed on a daily basis throughout the MESSENGER orbital phase. Mg has its own spatial and temporal pattern, peaking at mid-morning instead of early morning like Ca, and exhibiting a warm thermal profile, about 5000 K, unlike the extreme temperature of Ca which is an order of magnitude hotter. Although Mercury's sodium exosphere has been observed from the ground for many decades, the MASCS observations showed that, like calcium, the sodium exosphere is dominated by seasonal variations, not sporadic variations. However a conundrum exists as to why ground-based observations show highly variable high-latitude variations that eluded the MASCS. The origin of a persistent south polar enhancement has not been explained. The more volatile element, Na, is again colder, about 1200 K, but not thermally accommodated to the surface temperature. A

  13. Mercury's Core Molten, Radar Study Shows

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2007-05-01

    Scientists using a high-precision planetary radar technique for the first time have discovered that the innermost planet Mercury probably has a molten core, resolving a mystery of more than three decades. The discovery, which used the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory antennas in California, is an important step toward a better understanding of how planets form and evolve. Planetary Radar High-precision planetary radar technique sent signal to Mercury, received reflection. CREDIT: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF Click on image for high-resolution file (447 KB) "For a long time it was thought we'd have to land spacecraft on Mercury to learn if its core is solid or molten. Now we've answered that question using ground-based telescopes," said Jean-Luc Margot, of Cornell University, leader of the research team, which published its results in the May 4 issue of the journal Science. Mercury is one of the least-understood of the planets in our Solar System. Its distance from the Sun is just over one-third that of the Earth, and it contains a mass just 5½ percent that of Earth. Only about half of Mercury's surface has been photographed by a spacecraft, Mariner 10, back in 1974. Mariner 10 also discovered that Mercury has a weak magnetic field, about one percent as strong as Earth's. That discovery spurred a scientific debate about the planet's core. Scientists normally expect a rocky planet's magnetic field to be caused by an electromagnetic dynamo in a molten core. However, Mercury is so small that most scientists expected its core to have cooled and solidified long ago. Those scientists speculated that the magnetic field seen today may have been "frozen" into the planet when the core cooled. "Whether the core is molten or solid today depends greatly on the chemical composition of the core. That chemical composition can provide important clues about the

  14. Mercury's interior from MESSENGER geodetic measurements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Genova, Antonio; Mazarico, Erwan; Goossens, Sander; Lemoine, Frank G.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria T.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2016-04-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft completed more than 4 years of operations in orbit about Mercury. One of the main mission goals was the determination of the interior structure of Mercury enabled by geodetic observations of the topography, gravity field, rotation, and tides by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and radio science system. MLA acquired over 25 million individual measurements of Mercury's shape that are mostly limited to the northern hemisphere because of MESSENGER's eccentric orbit. However, the lack of laser altimetry in the southern hemisphere has been partly compensated by ˜400 occultations of spacecraft radio signals. X-band radio tracking data collected by the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) allowed the determination of Mercury's gravity field to spherical harmonic degree and order 100, the planet's obliquity, and the Love number k2. The combination of altimetry and radio measurements provides a powerful tool for the investigation of Mercury's orientation and tides, which enable a better understanding of the interior structure of the planet. The MLA measurements have been assembled into a digital elevation model (DEM) of the northern hemisphere. We then used individual altimetric measurements from the spacecraft for orbit determination, together with the radio tracking, over a continuous span of time using a batch least-squares filter. All observations were combined to recover directly the gravity field coefficients, obliquity, librations, and tides by minimizing the discrepancies between the computed observables and actual measurements. We will present the estimated 100×100 gravity field model, the obliquity, the Love number k2, and, for the first time, the tidal phase lag φ and the amplitude of the longitudinal libration from radio and altimetry data. The k2 phase provides information on Mercury's dissipation and mantle viscosity and allows a determination of the Q factor. A refinement of

  15. Mapping the Topography of Mercury with MESSENGER Laser Altimetry

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sun, Xiaoli; Cavanaugh, John F.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Smith, David E..; Zubor, Maria T.

    2012-01-01

    The Mercury Laser Altimeter onboard MESSENGER involves unique design elements that deal with the challenges of being in orbit around Mercury. The Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) is one of seven instruments on NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. MESSENGER was launched on 3 August 2004, and entered into orbit about Mercury on 18 March 2011 after a journey through the inner solar system. This involved six planetary flybys, including three of Mercury. MLA is designed to map the topography and landforms of Mercury's surface. It also measures the planet's forced libration (motion about the spin axis), which helps constrain the state of the core. The first science measurements from orbit taken with MLA were made on 29 March 2011 and continue to date. MLA had accumulated about 8.3 million laser ranging measurements to Mercury's surface, as of 31 July 2012, i.e., over six Mercury years (528 Earth days). Although MLA is the third planetary lidar built at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), MLA must endure a much harsher thermal environment near Mercury than the previous instruments on Mars and Earth satellites. The design of MLA was derived in part from that of the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on Mars Global Surveyor. However, MLA must range over greater distances and often in off-nadir directions from a highly eccentric orbit. In MLA we use a single-mode diode-pumped Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) laser that is highly collimated to maintain a small footprint on the planet. The receiver has both a narrow field of view and a narrow spectral bandwidth to minimize the amount of background light detected from the sunlit hemisphere of Mercury. We achieve the highest possible receiver sensitivity by employing the minimum receiver detection threshold.

  16. The X-Ray Spectrometer for Mercury MESSENGER

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Starr, R. D.; Ho, G. C.; Schlemm, C.; Gold, R. E.; Goldsten, J. O.; Boynton, W. V.; Trombka, J. I.

    2001-01-01

    Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and because it is so close, it is difficult to study from Earth-based observatories. Its proximity to the Sun has also limited the number of spacecraft to visit this tiny planet to just one, Mariner 10, which flew by Mercury twice in 1974 and once in 1975. Mariner 10 provided a wealth of new information about Mercury, yet much still remains unknown about Mercury's geologic history and the processes that led to its formation. The origin of Mercury's metal-rich composition is just one area of investigation awaiting more and improved data to sort between competing hypotheses. Mercury plays an important role in comparative planetology, and many of the processes that were important during its formation are relevant to the Earth's early history. MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) is a Discovery mission that has been designed to fly by and orbit Mercury. It will launch in March 2004, flyby Mercury in 2007 and 2008 and enter an elliptical orbit in April 2009. During the one-year orbital phase, a suite of instruments on board the MESSENGER spacecraft will study the exosphere, magnetosphere, surface, and interior of Mercury. One of these instruments will be an X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) that will measure surface elemental abundances. Remote X-ray spectroscopy has been accomplished before on the Apollo 15 and 16 missions, and more recently on NEAR Shoemaker. The MESSENGER XRS will measure characteristic X-ray emissions induced in the surface of Mercury by the incident solar flux. The Ka lines for the elements Mg, Al, Si, S, Ca, Ti, and Fe will be detected with spatial resolution on the order of 40 km when counting statistics are not a limiting factor. These measurements can be used to obtain quantitative information on elemental composition.

  17. Large longitude libration of Mercury reveals a molten core.

    PubMed

    Margot, J L; Peale, S J; Jurgens, R F; Slade, M A; Holin, I V

    2007-05-01

    Observations of radar speckle patterns tied to the rotation of Mercury establish that the planet occupies a Cassini state with obliquity of 2.11 +/- 0.1 arc minutes. The measurements show that the planet exhibits librations in longitude that are forced at the 88-day orbital period, as predicted by theory. The large amplitude of the oscillations, 35.8 +/- 2 arc seconds, together with the Mariner 10 determination of the gravitational harmonic coefficient C22, indicates that the mantle of Mercury is decoupled from a core that is at least partially molten. PMID:17478713

  18. Asymmetries in the dust flux at Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Borin, P.; Cremonese, G.; Bruno, M.; Marzari, F.

    2016-01-01

    The planet Mercury has an extended and tenuous exosphere made up of atoms that are ejected from the surface by energetic processes, including hypervelocity micrometeoritic impacts, photon-stimulated desorption by UV radiation, and ion sputtering. Meteoroid impacts of particles smaller than 1 cm, which are important for replenishing the exosphere daily, are not well-studied. We present a systematic investigation of spatial asymmetries in the impactor rate of micrometeoroids over Mercury's surface as a function of planetary true anomaly (TAA). Since the orbit of Mercury is quite eccentric a seasonal variation of the impact rate is to be expected. We find that the source peaks near the planetary equator for most TAA. Contrary to previous assumptions, we find the source to be non-uniform in local time. Only certain regions of Mercury are exposed to dust as a result of the orbital elements of Mercury and of the Main Belt particles (inclination less than 20°). Our results offer important constraints on transport models used for interpreting measurements of this exosphere, but also inform studies of space weathering of Mercury's surface.

  19. Magnesium-rich Basalts on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martel, L. M. V.

    2013-05-01

    X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometers on NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft are making key measurements regarding the composition and properties of the surface of Mercury, allowing researchers to more clearly decipher the planet's formation and geologic history. The origin of the igneous rocks in the crust of Mercury is the focus of recent research by Karen Stockstill-Cahill and Tim McCoy (National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution), along with Larry Nittler and Shoshana Weider (Carnegie Institution of Washington) and Steven Hauck II (Case Western Reserve University). Using the well-known MELTS computer code Stockstill-Cahill and coauthors worked with MESSENGER-derived and rock-analog compositions to constrain petrologic models of the lavas that erupted on the surface of Mercury. Rock analogs included a partial melt of the Indarch meteorite and a range of Mg-rich terrestrial rocks. Their work shows the lavas on Mercury are most similar to terrestrial magnesian basalt (with lowered FeO content). The implications of the modeling are that Mg-rich lavas came from high-temperature sources in Mercury's mantle and erupted at high temperature with exceptionally low viscosity into thinly bedded and laterally extensive flows, concepts open to further evaluation by laboratory experiments and by geologic mapping of Mercury's surface using MESSENGER's imaging system and laser altimeter to document flow features and dimensions.

  20. Mercury's Seasonal Sodium Exosphere: MESSENGER Orbital Observations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cassidy, Timothy A.; Merkel, Aimee W.; Burger, Matthew H.; Killen, Rosemary M.; McClintock, William E.; Vervack, Ronald J., Jr.; Sarantos, Menelaos

    2014-01-01

    The Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVVS) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft now orbiting Mercury provides the first close-up look at the planet's sodium exosphere. UVVS has observed the exosphere from orbit almost daily for over 10 Mercury years. In this paper we describe and analyze a subset of these data: altitude profiles taken above the low-latitude dayside and south pole. The observations show spatial and temporal variations, but there are no obvious year-to-year variations in most of the observations. We do not see the episodic variability reported by some ground-based observers. We used these altitude profiles to make estimates of sodium density and temperature. The bulk of the exosphere, at about 1200 K, is much warmer than Mercury's surface. This value is consistent with some ground-based measurements and suggests that photon-stimulated desorption is the primary ejection process. We also observe a tenuous energetic component but do not see evidence of the predicted thermalized (or partially thermalized) sodium near Mercury's surface temperature. Overall we do not see the variable mixture of temperatures predicted by most Monte Carlo models of the exosphere.

  1. Global tectonics of Mercury and the moon

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cordell, B. M.; Strom, R. G.

    1977-01-01

    Lobate scarps on Mercury have been studied to determine the nature of the surface stress history and implications for the planet's early tectonic history. Morphologic and transection relations indicate that most Mercurian scarps are tectonic in nature and are due to compressive stresses in the surface layer. The azimuthal distribution of lobate-scarp trends is compatible with an early predominantly compressive global stress field due to thermal shrinkage of the planet. Superposition relations indicate that the contractive phase was largely a pre-Caloris process. The effects of stresses due to planetary despinning were either negligible, predate the scarps, or were largely obscured by cratering or volcanism. The tectonic history of Mercury as recorded in the lobate scarps is different from that which caused the system of lineaments on the moon.

  2. Discovery of sodium in the atmosphere of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Potter, A.; Morgan, T.

    1985-08-01

    The spectrum of Mercury at the Fraunhofer sodium D lines shows strong emission features that are attributed to resonant scattering of sunlight from sodium vapor in the atmosphere of the planet. The total column abundance of sodium was estimated to be 8.1×1011 atoms per square centimeter, which corresponds to a surface density at the subsolar point of about 1.5×105 atoms per cubic centimeter. The most abundant atmospheric species found by the Mariner 10 mission to Mercury was helium, with a surface density of 4.5×103 atoms per cubic centimeter. It now appears that sodium vapor is a major constituent of Mercury's atmosphere.

  3. Mercury's surface: Preliminary description and interpretation from Mariner 10 pictures

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murray, B.C.; Belton, M.J.S.; Edward, Danielson G.; Davies, M.E.; Gault, D.E.; Hapke, B.; O'Leary, B.; Strom, R.G.; Suomi, V.; Trask, N.

    1974-01-01

    The surface morphology and optical properties of Mercury resemble those of the moon in remarkable detail and record a very similar sequence of events. Chemical and mineralogical similarity of the outer layers of Mercury and the moon is implied; Mercury is probably a differentiated planet with a large iron-rich core. Differentiation is inferred to have occurred very early. No evidence of atmospheric modification of landforms has been found. Large-scale scarps and ridges unlike lunar or martian features may reflect a unique period of planetary compression near the end of heavy bombardment by small planetesimals.

  4. Mercury's Surface: Preliminary Description and Interpretation from Mariner 10 Pictures.

    PubMed

    Murray, B C; Belton, M J; Danielson, G E; Davies, M E; Gault, D E; Hapke, B; O'leary, B; Strom, R G; Suomi, V; Trask, N

    1974-07-12

    The surface morphology and optical properties of Mercury resemble those of the moon in remarkable detail and record a very similar sequence of events. Chemical and mineralogical similarity of the outer layers of Mercury and the moon is implied; Mercury is probably a differentiated planet with a large iron-rich core. Differentiation is inferred to have occurred very early. No evidence of atmospheric modification of landforms has been found. Large-scale scarps and ridges unlike lunar or martian features may reflect a unique period of planetary compression near the end of heavy bombardment by small planetesimals. PMID:17810511

  5. Maintaining the NA atmosphere of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Killen, R. M.; Morgan, T. H.

    1993-02-01

    The possible sources of the Na atmosphere of Mercury are calculatively studied. The likely structure, composition, and temperature of the planet's upper crust is examined along with the probable flux of Na from depth by grain boundary diffusion and by Knudsen flow. The creation of fresh regolith is considered along with mechanisms for supplying Na from the surface to the exosphere. The implications of the calculations for the probable abundances in the regolith are discussed.

  6. (abstract) Hermes Global Orbiter: Mission to Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Horn, L.; Nelson, R.; Weiss, J.; Smythe, W.; Evans, M.; Gatz, E.; Kuo, S.; Lane, A.; Linick, S.; Lopes-Gautier, R.; Manatt, K.; Martin, W.; Morris, R.; Ocampo, A.; Spradlin, G.; Wallis, B.; Yen, C.; Danielson, G.; Garvin, J.; Guest, J.; Hapke, B.; McClintock, W.; Simmons, K.; Russell, C.; Cruz, M.

    1993-01-01

    The Hermes Global Orbiter is a proposed Discovery-class mission. Hermes will be launched aboard a Delta II rocket in 1999 and will be placed in an elliptical polar orbit about Mercury. Remote sensing measurements of the planet's surface, atmosphere, and magnetosphere will be performed. Key mission goals include mapping the entire surface at 1 km resolution, characterizing the surface composition, texture and topography, searching for water ice at the poles, characterizing the atmosphere, and constraining the interior structure.

  7. Maintaining the Na atmosphere of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Killen, Rosemary M.; Morgan, Thomas H.

    1993-01-01

    The possible sources of the Na atmosphere of Mercury are calculatively studied. The likely structure, composition, and temperature of the planet's upper crust is examined along with the probable flux of Na from depth by grain boundary diffusion and by Knudsen flow. The creation of fresh regolith is considered along with mechanisms for supplying Na from the surface to the exosphere. The implications of the calculations for the probable abundances in the regolith are discussed.

  8. Peeking at the Planets.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riddle, Bob

    2002-01-01

    Provides information about each of the planets in our solar system. Focuses on information related to the space missions that have visited or flown near each planet, and includes a summary of what is known about some of the features of each planet. (DDR)

  9. Terrestrial Planets: Comparative Planetology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1985-01-01

    Papers were presented at the 47th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting on the Comparative planetology of Terrestrial Planets. Subject matter explored concerning terrestrial planets includes: interrelationships among planets; plaentary evolution; planetary structure; planetary composition; planetary Atmospheres; noble gases in meteorites; and planetary magnetic fields.

  10. Kepler Planet Formation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.

    2015-01-01

    Kepler has vastly increased our knowledge of planets and planetary systems located close to stars. The new data shows surprising results for planetary abundances, planetary spacings and the distribution of planets on a mass-radius diagram. The implications of these results for theories of planet formation will be discussed.

  11. Distribution, Statistics, and Resurfacing of Large Impact Basins on Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Fassett, Caleb I.; Head, James W.; Baker, David M. H.; Chapman, Clark R.; Murchie, Scott L.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Oberst, Juergen; Prockter, Louise M.; Smith, David E.; Solomon, Sean C.; Strom, Robert G.; Xiao, Zhiyong; Zuber, Maria T.

    2012-01-01

    The distribution and geological history of large impact basins (diameter D greater than or equal to 300 km) on Mercury is important to understanding the planet's stratigraphy and surface evolution. It is also informative to compare the density of impact basins on Mercury with that of the Moon to understand similarities and differences in their impact crater and basin populations [1, 2]. A variety of impact basins were proposed on the basis of geological mapping with Mariner 10 data [e.g. 3]. This basin population can now be re-assessed and extended to the full planet, using data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. Note that small-to- medium-sized peak-ring basins on Mercury are being examined separately [4, 5]; only the three largest peak-ring basins on Mercury overlap with the size range we consider here. In this study, we (1) re-examine the large basins suggested on the basis of Mariner 10 data, (2) suggest additional basins from MESSENGER's global coverage of Mercury, (3) assess the size-frequency distribution of mercurian basins on the basis of these global observations and compare it to the Moon, and (4) analyze the implications of these observations for the modification history of basins on Mercury.

  12. The magnetic field of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ness, N. F.

    1977-01-01

    The Mariner 10 spacecraft encountered Mercury three times in 1974-1975. The first and third encounters provided detailed observations of a well-developed detached bow shock wave which results from the interaction of the solar wind. The planet possesses a global magnetic field and a modest magnetosphere, which deflects the solar wind. The field is approximately dipolar, with orientation in the same sense as earth, tilted 12 deg from the rotation axis. The magnetic moment corresponds to an undistorted equatorial field intensity of 350 gammas, approximately 1% of earth's. The field, while unequivocally intrinsic to the planet, may be due to remanent magnetization acquired from an extinct dynamo or a primordial magnetic field or due to a presently active dynamo. The latter possibility appears more plausible at present. In any case, the existence of the magnetic field provides very strong evidence of a mature differentiated planetary interior with a large core (core radius about 0.7 Mercury radius) and a record of the history of planetary formation in the magnetization of the crustal rocks.

  13. CME impact on Mercury's sputtered exospheric environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pfleger, M.; Lichtenegger, H. I. M.; Lammer, H.; Mura, A.; Wurz, P.; Martin-Fernandez, J. A.

    2013-09-01

    Solar wind and magnetospheric plasma precipitation onto the surface of Mercury triggers the formation of exospheric particle populations by sputtering processes. Numerical modeling of Mercury's magnetosphere has shown that the weak intrinsic magnetic field of the planet is sufficient to prevent the equatorial regions from being impacted by solar wind ions during moderate solar wind conditions. However, intense fluxes of protons are expected to hit the auroral regions, giving rise to the release of surface elements at high latitudes by ion sputtering. During high solar wind dynamic pressure conditions in the case of CME events, the solar wind protons will have access to Mercury's entire dayside surface, which may result in a considerable filling of the exosphere by sputtered surface material.

  14. Mercury's global evolution: New views from MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hauck, S. A., II; Byrne, P. K.; Denevi, B. W.; Grott, M.; McCoy, T.; Stanley, S.

    2015-12-01

    MESSENGER's exploration of Mercury has revealed the planet's rich and dynamic history and provided new constraints on the processes that control its internal evolution. Mercury's surface records evidence of an extensive geological history. This evidence includes resurfacing by impacts and volcanism prior to the end of the late heavy bombardment (LHB) and a subsequent rapid waning of effusive volcanism. Volcanism is an important indicator of the history of melt production. Thousands of globally distributed, contractional tectonic landforms collectively have accommodated a decrease in Mercury's radius of 5-7 km since the end of the LHB. Such contraction results from planetary cooling and crystallization within Mercury's metallic core. Measurements of surface chemistry have provided constraints on internal radiogenic heat production necessary to understand more fully Mercury's thermal evolution. Elemental abundances also reveal that Mercury is strongly chemically reduced, suggesting that the core's iron is alloyed with silicon as well as sulfur, which constrains the dynamics and crystallization of the metallic core. Magnetometer observations show that Mercury's dynamo-generated, dominantly dipolar field is displaced ~500 km northward along the rotation axis. Low-altitude magnetic field observations late in the mission led to the discovery of crustal magnetization in Mercury's ancient crust, dating to at least 3.7 Ga, which places a new constraint on the timing of the dynamo. Monte Carlo parameterized mantle convection models, constrained by these observations, indicate that for global contraction of 7 km or less, mantle convection persists to the present ~40% of the time, with the likelihood of modern convection decreasing with less global contraction. Slow present cooling in these models indicates that dynamo generation is strongly influenced by both a static layer at the top of the core and convective motions within the core driven by compositional buoyancy.

  15. Theory of Secular Chaos and Mercury's Orbit

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lithwick, Yoram; Wu, Yanqin

    2011-09-01

    We study the chaotic orbital evolution of planetary systems, focusing on secular (i.e., orbit-averaged) interactions, which dominate on long timescales. We first focus on the evolution of a test particle that is forced by multiple planets. To linear order in eccentricity and inclination, its orbit precesses with constant frequencies. But nonlinearities modify the frequencies, and can shift them into and out of resonance with either the planets' eigenfrequencies (forming eccentricity or inclination secular resonances), or with linear combinations of those frequencies (forming mixed high-order secular resonances). The overlap of these nonlinear secular resonances drives secular chaos. We calculate the locations and widths of nonlinear secular resonances, display them together on a newly developed map (the "map of the mean momenta"), and find good agreement between analytical and numerical results. This map also graphically demonstrates how chaos emerges from overlapping secular resonances. We then apply this newfound understanding to Mercury to elucidate the origin of its orbital chaos. We find that since Mercury's two free precession frequencies (in eccentricity and inclination) lie within ~25% of two other eigenfrequencies in the solar system (those of the Jupiter-dominated eccentricity mode and the Venus-dominated inclination mode), secular resonances involving these four modes overlap and cause Mercury's chaos. We confirm this with N-body integrations by showing that a slew of these resonant angles alternately librate and circulate. Our new analytical understanding allows us to calculate the criterion for Mercury to become chaotic: Jupiter and Venus must have eccentricity and inclination of a few percent. The timescale for Mercury's chaotic diffusion depends sensitively on the forcing. As it is, Mercury appears to be perched on the threshold for chaos, with an instability timescale comparable to the lifetime of the solar system.

  16. MERCURY RESEARCH STRATEGY.

    EPA Science Inventory

    The USEPA's ORD is pleased to announce the availability of its Mercury Research Strategy. This strategy guides ORD's mercury research program and covers the FY2001-2005 time frame. ORD will use it to prepare a multi-year mercury research implementation plan in 2001. The Mercury R...

  17. Mercury contamination extraction

    DOEpatents

    Fuhrmann, Mark; Heiser, John; Kalb, Paul

    2009-09-15

    Mercury is removed from contaminated waste by firstly applying a sulfur reagent to the waste. Mercury in the waste is then permitted to migrate to the reagent and is stabilized in a mercury sulfide compound. The stable compound may then be removed from the waste which itself remains in situ following mercury removal therefrom.

  18. Mariner 10 observations of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dunne, J. A.

    1976-01-01

    The paper reviews Mariner 10 observations of Mercury during the three encounters in March 1974 in a darkside passage at an altitude of 703 km, in September 1974 in a brightside passage at southern latitudes at a distance of some 50,000 km, and in March 1975 in another darkside passage at midnorthern latitudes at a closest approach distance of about 327 km. Evidence for the chemical differentiation of Mercury is found in the morphology and distribution of the smooth plains. The concept of chemical differentiation is shown to be consistent with the observation of global compression in that the crustal shortening observed could readily be explained by a phase change in a large metal-rich core. Extreme ultraviolet observations set an upper limit to the atmosphere at around one trillionth bar, with positive identification of a tenous (10 to the minus 15th bar) He atmosphere. An unexpected finding during the first encounter was the existence of a planet-related magnetic field. The third encounter yielded unequivocal evidence that the field is of internal origin, providing an independent line of evidence that Mercury possesses a large metal-rich core.

  19. Planet Demographics from Transits

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Howard, Andrew

    2015-08-01

    From the demographics of planets detected by the Kepler mission, we have learned that there exists approximately one planet per star for planets larger than Earth orbiting inside of 1 AU. We have also learned the relative occurrence of these planets as a function of their orbital periods, sizes, and host star masses and metallicities. In this talk I will review the key statistical findings that the planet size distribution peaks in the range 1-3 times Earth-size, the orbital period distribution is characterized by a power-law cut off at short periods, small planets are more prevalent around small stars, and that approximately 20% of Sun-like stars hosts a planet 1-2 times Earth-size in a habitable zone. Looking forward, I will describe analysis of photometry from the K2 mission that is yielding initial planet discoveries and offering the opportunity to measure planet occurrence in widely separated regions of the galaxy. Finally, I will also discuss recent techniques to discover transiting planets in space-based photometry and to infer planet population properties from the ensemble of detected and non-detected transit signals.

  20. Kepler's missing planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Steffen, Jason H.

    2013-08-01

    We investigate the distributions of the orbital period ratios of adjacent planets in high-multiplicity Kepler systems (four or more planets) and low-multiplicity systems (two planets). Modelling the low-multiplicity sample as essentially equivalent to the high-multiplicity sample, but with unobserved intermediate planets, we find some evidence for an excess of planet pairs between the 2:1 and 3:1 mean-motion resonances in the low-multiplicity sample. This possible excess may be the result of strong dynamical interactions near these or other resonances or it may be a byproduct of other evolutionary events or processes such as planetary collisions. Three-planet systems show a significant excess of planets near the 2:1 mean-motion resonance that is not as prominent in either of the other samples. This observation may imply a correlation between strong dynamical interactions and observed planet number - perhaps a relationship between resonance pairs and the inclinations or orbital periods of additional planets. The period ratio distributions can also be used to identify targets to search for missing planets in the each of the samples, the presence or absence of which would have strong implications for planet formation and dynamical evolution models.

  1. The SARG Planet Search

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Desidera, S.; Gratton, R.; Endl, M.; Fiorenzano, A. F. Martinez; Barbieri, M.; Claudi, R.; Cosentino, R.; Scuderi, S.; Bonavita, M.

    The search for planets in multiple systems allows to improve our knowledge of planet formation and evolution. On one hand, the frequency of planets in binary systems has a strong effect on the global frequency of planets, as more than half of solar-type stars are in binary or multiple systems (Duquennoy and Mayor 1991). On the other hand, the properties of planets in binaries, and their differences with the properties of the planets orbiting single stars, would shed light on the effects caused by the presence of the companion stars. Indeed, the first analysis of the properties of planets in binaries showed the occurrence of some differences with respect to those orbiting single stars (Zucker and Mazeh 2002; Eggenberger et al. 2004).

  2. Solar wind interaction with the terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garnier, Philippe; Milillo, Anna; Radioti, Aikaterini

    2015-09-01

    This issue entitled "Solar wind interaction with the terrestrial planets" follows the recurrent session PS5.1 (Planetary Plasma Physics and Interactions in the Solar System) held at the European Geophysical Union conference. The EGU session hosts original studies on all aspects of planetary plasma physics and interactions in the Solar System. This issue more specifically includes studies presented at several international meetings during the recent years on the physics of magnetospheres, ionospheres, auroras, and also the surface-plasma or atmosphere-plasma interactions, at inner planets such as Mercury, Earth (and Moon), Mars and Venus. The following papers, in fact, cover all of these aspects, and are based on a variety of techniques: space and ground-based observations, numerical modeling and even laboratory measurements.

  3. Wrinkle ridge assemblages on the terrestrial planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Watters, Thomas R.

    1988-01-01

    The morphological and dimensional similarities of the structures within the wrinkle ridge assemblages observed on terrestrial planets are investigated, including structures that occur in mare basalts on the moon and in smooth plains on Mars and Mercury. These structures can be classified as either arches or ridges on the basis of morphology, and ridges can be subdivided onto first-, second-, and third-order ridges on the basis of dimensions. Using ridge structures on the Columbia Plateau (U.S.) as analogs, a basis for a structural interpretation of the wrinkle ridge assemblages on the terrestrial planets is established. It is shown that the anticlinal ridges of the Columbia Plateau are appropriate analogs to the first-order ridges, supporting tectonic interpretations for the ridges.

  4. Mercury's Dynamic Magnetosphere: What Have We Learned from MESSENGER?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Slavin, James A.

    2016-04-01

    Mercury's magnetosphere is created by the solar wind interaction with its dipolar, spin-axis aligned, northward offset intrinsic magnetic field. Structurally it resembles that of the Earth in many respects, but the magnetic field intensities and plasma densities are all higher at Mercury due to conditions in the inner solar system. Magnetospheric plasma at Mercury appears to be primarily of solar wind origin, i.e. H+ and He++, but with 10% Na+ derived from the exosphere. Solar wind sputtering and other processes promote neutrals from the regolith into the exosphere where they may be ionized and incorporated into the magnetospheric plasma population. At this point in time, about one year after MESSENGER's impact and one year prior to BepiColombo's launch, we review MESSENGER's observations of magnetospheric dynamics and structure. In doing so we will provide our best answers to the following six questions: Question #1: How do magnetosheath conditions at Mercury differ from what is found at the other planets? Question #2: How do conditions in Mercury's magnetosheath contribute to the dynamic nature of Mercury's magnetosphere? How does magnetopause reconnection at Mercury differ from what is seen at Earth? Are flux transfer events (FTEs) a major driver of magnetospheric convection at Mercury? Question #3: Does reconnection ever erode the dayside magnetosphere to the point where the subsolar region of the surface is exposed to direct solar wind impact? To what extent do induction currents driven in Mercury's interior limit the solar wind flux to the surface? Do FTEs contribute significantly to the solar wind flux reaching the surface? Question #4: What effects do heavy planetary ions have on Mercury's magnetosphere? Question #5: Does Mercury's magnetotail store and dissipate magnetic energy in a manner analogous to substorms at Earth? How is the process affected by the lack of an ionosphere and the expected high electrical resistivity of the crust? Question #6: How

  5. Widespread effusive volcanism on Mercury likely ended by about 3.5 Ga

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Byrne, Paul K.; Ostrach, Lillian R.; Fassett, Caleb I.; Chapman, Clark R.; Denevi, Brett W.; Evans, Alexander J.; Klimczak, Christian; Banks, Maria E.; Head, James W.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2016-07-01

    Crater size-frequency analyses have shown that the largest volcanic plains deposits on Mercury were emplaced around 3.7 Ga, as determined with recent model production function chronologies for impact crater formation on that planet. To test the hypothesis that all major smooth plains on Mercury were emplaced by about that time, we determined crater size-frequency distributions for the nine next-largest deposits, which we interpret also as volcanic. Our crater density measurements are consistent with those of the largest areas of smooth plains on the planet. Model ages based on recent crater production rate estimates for Mercury imply that the main phase of plains volcanism on Mercury had ended by ~3.5 Ga, with only small-scale volcanism enduring beyond that time. Cessation of widespread effusive volcanism is attributable to interior cooling and contraction of the innermost planet.

  6. Energetic Particles Dynamics in Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Walsh, Brian M.; Ryou, A.S.; Sibeck, D. G.; Alexeev, I. I.

    2013-01-01

    We investigate the drift paths of energetic particles in Mercury's magnetosphere by tracing their motion through a model magnetic field. Test particle simulations solving the full Lorentz force show a quasi-trapped energetic particle population that gradient and curvature drift around the planet via "Shabansky" orbits, passing though high latitudes in the compressed dayside by equatorial latitudes on the nightside. Due to their large gyroradii, energetic H+ and Na+ ions will typically collide with the planet or the magnetopause and will not be able to complete a full drift orbit. These simulations provide direct comparison for recent spacecraft measurements from MESSENGER. Mercury's offset dipole results in an asymmetric loss cone and therefore an asymmetry in particle precipitation with more particles precipitating in the southern hemisphere. Since the planet lacks an atmosphere, precipitating particles will collide directly with the surface of the planet. The incident charged particles can kick up neutrals from the surface and have implications for the formation of the exosphere and weathering of the surface

  7. On the mechanism of the magnetic dynamo of the planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dolginov, S. S.

    1977-01-01

    Results of testing the effectiveness of the theory of precessional dynamos in the generation of the magnetic fields of the planets are presented. It is shown that the magnetic state of Earth and of the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Venus can be satisfactorily described by the formula H(i) = H(3) V(i)/V(3) T(3)/T(i) omega(i)/omega(3) sin(alpha 1)/sin(alpha 2) where H, V, T, omega and alpha are the dipole fields, volumes of liquid cores, periods of rotation, rates of precession, and angles between precession vector and angular rotation, respectively, for the planets and earth. The v(i) corresponds to known models of the internal structure. It is shown that the magnetic state of Mercury satisfies this formula if the dynamic flattening of the planet f = .000057-.000083.

  8. Mercury Quick Facts: Health Effects of Mercury Exposure

    MedlinePlus

    Mercury Quick Facts Health Effects of Mercury Exposure What is Elemental Mercury? Elemental (metallic) mercury is the shiny, silver-gray metal found in thermometers, barometers, and thermostats and other ...

  9. Interaction of solar wind with Mercury and its magnetic field. [as observed by Mariner 10 space probe

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ness, N. F.; Behannon, K. W.; Lepping, R. P.; Whang, Y. C.

    1976-01-01

    A brief review is presented of magnetic field and solar wind electron observations by Mariner 10 spacecraft. The intrinsic magnetic field of the planet Mercury and the implications of such a field for the planetary interior are also discussed.

  10. Exploring the planets with spacecraft - Accomplishments to date

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rea, D. G.

    1974-01-01

    A summary of knowledge gained about Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury via spacecraft. Mariner and Venera probes returned data on Venus' size, atmospheric structure and composition, temperature profiles, and magnetic field. Knowledge of the clouds is still primitive. Mars and Mariner probes (especially Mariner 9) expanded knowledge of the Martian surface, atmospheric structure and dynamics, and magnetic field. Mars is now viewed as a very active planet, with the possibility of life not immediately ruled out. Pioneer 10 returned data on Jovian temperature profiles and magnetic field, Galilean satellite masses, and Io's atmosphere. Mariner 10 added to knowledge of Mercury's surface, magnetic field, atmosphere, and activity.

  11. Near Global Mosaic of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Becker, K. J.; Robinson, M. S.; Becker, T. L.; Weller, L. A.; Turner, S.; Nguyen, L.; Selby, C.; Denevi, B. W.; Murchie, S. L.; McNutt, R. L.; Solomon, S. C.

    2009-12-01

    In 2008 the MESSENGER spacecraft made two close flybys (M1 and M2) of Mercury and imaged about 74% of the planet at a resolution of 1 km per pixel, and at higher resolution for smaller portions of the planet. The Mariner 10 spacecraft imaged about 42% of Mercury’s surface more than 30 years ago. Combining image data collected by the two missions yields coverage of about 83% of Mercury’s surface. MESSENGER will perform its third and final flyby of Mercury (M3) on 29 September 2009. This will yield approximately 86% coverage of Mercury, leaving only the north and south polar regions yet to be imaged by MESSENGER after orbit insertion in March 2011. A new global mosaic of Mercury was constructed using 325 images containing 3566 control points (8110 measures) from M1 and 225 images containing 1465 control points (3506 measures) from M2. The M3 flyby is shifted in subsolar longitude only by 4° from M2, so the added coverage is very small. However, this small slice of Mercury fills a gore in the mosaic between the M1 and M2 data and allows a complete cartographic tie around the equator. We will run a new bundle block adjustment with the additional images acquired from M3. This new edition of the MESSENGER Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) global mosaic of Mercury includes many improvements since the M2 flyby in October 2008. A new distortion model for the NAC camera greatly improves the image-to-image registration. Optical distortion correction is independent of pointing error correction, and both are required for a mosaic of high quality. The new distortion model alone reduced residual pointing errors for both flybys significantly; residual pixel error improved from 0.71 average (3.7 max) to 0.13 average (1.7 max) for M1 and from 0.72 average (4.8 max.) to 0.17 average (3.5 max) for M2. Analysis quantifying pivot motor position has led to development of a new model that improves accuracy of the pivot platform attitude. This model improves

  12. The brightness temperature of Mercury at 150 and 240 GHz

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sabbatini, L.; Pizzo, L.; Dall'Oglio, G.

    2011-10-01

    During the Italian Antarctic Expedition 2004/2005 we observed Mercury at 150 and 240 GHz. The observations have been carried out by means of the 2.6 m OASI telescope. By using the responsivity of our detectors, obtained from Venus, the brightness temperature of the planet was derived.

  13. Compact, passively Q-switched Nd:YAG laser for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.

    PubMed

    Krebs, Danny J; Novo-Gradac, Anne-Marie; Li, Steven X; Lindauer, Steven J; Afzal, Robert S; Yu, Anthony W

    2005-03-20

    A compact, passively Q-switched Nd:YAG laser has been developed for the Mercury Laser Altimeter, an instrument on the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging mission to the planet Mercury. The laser achieves 5.4% efficiency with a near-diffraction-limited beam. It passed all space-flight environmental tests at subsystem, instrument, and satellite integration testing and successfully completes a postlaunch aliveness check en route to Mercury. The laser design draws on a heritage of previous laser altimetry missions, specifically the Ice Cloud and Elevation Satellite and the Mars Global Surveyor, but incorporates thermal management features unique to the requirements of an orbit of the planet Mercury. PMID:15813276

  14. MESSENGER at Mercury: Early Orbital Operations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McNutt, Ralph L., Jr; Solomon, Sean C.; Bedini, Peter D.; Anderson, Brian J.; Blewett, David T.; Evans, Larry G.; Gold, Robert E.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Murchie, Scott L.; Nittler, Larry R.; Philips, Roger J.; Prockter, Louise M.; Slavin, James A.; Zuber, M. T.; Finnegan, Eric J.; Grant, David G.

    2013-01-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, launched in August 2004 under NASA's Discovery Program, was inserted into orbit about the planet Mercury in March 2011. MESSENGER's three flybys of Mercury in 2008-2009 marked the first spacecraft visits to the innermost planet since the Mariner 10 flybys in 1974-1975. The unprecedented orbital operations are yielding new insights into the nature and evolution of Mercury. The scientific questions that frame the MESSENGER mission led to the mission measurement objectives to be achieved by the seven payload instruments and the radio science experiment. Interweaving the full set of required orbital observations in a manner that maximizes the opportunity to satisfy all mission objectives and yet meet stringent spacecraft pointing and thermal constraints was a complex optimization problem that was solved with a software tool that simulates science observations and tracks progress toward meeting each objective. The final orbital observation plan, the outcome of that optimization process, meets all mission objectives. MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System is acquiring a global monochromatic image mosaic at better than 90% coverage and at least 250 m average resolution, a global color image mosaic at better than 90% coverage and at least 1 km average resolution, and global stereo imaging at better than 80% coverage and at least 250 m average resolution. Higher-resolution images are also being acquired of targeted areas. The elemental remote sensing instruments, including the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer and the X-Ray Spectrometer, are being operated nearly continuously and will establish the average surface abundances of most major elements. The Visible and Infrared Spectrograph channel of MESSENGER's Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer is acquiring a global map of spectral reflectance from 300 to 1450 nm wavelength at a range of incidence and emission

  15. MESSENGER at Mercury: Early Orbital Operations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McNutt, Ralph L., Jr.; Solomon, Sean C.; Bedini, Peter D.; Anderson, Brian J.; Blewett, David T.; Evans, Larry G.; Gold, Robert E.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Murchie, Scott L.; Nittler, Larry R.; Slavin, James A.

    2012-01-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, launched in August 2004 under NASA's Discovery Program, was inserted into orbit about the planet Mercury in March 2011. MESSENGER's three flybys of Mercury in 2008-2009 marked the first spacecraft visits to the innermost planet since the Mariner 10 flybys in 1974-1975. The unprecedented orbital operations are yielding new insights into the nature and evolution of Mercury. The scientific questions that frame the MESSENGER mission led to the mission measurement objectives to be achieved by the seven payload instruments and the radio science experiment. Interweaving the full set of required orbital observations in a manner that maximizes the opportunity to satisfy all mission objectives and yet meet stringent spacecraft pointing and thermal constraints was a complex optimization problem that was solved with a software tool that simulates science observations and tracks progress toward meeting each objective. The final orbital observation plan, the outcome of that optimization process, meets all mission objectives. MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System is acquiring a global monochromatic image mosaic at better than 90%coverage and at least 250 m average resolution, a global color image mosaic at better than 90%coverage and at least 1 km average resolution, and global stereo imaging at better than 80%coverage and at least 250 m average resolution. Higher-resolution images are also being acquired of targeted areas. The elemental remote sensing instruments, including the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer and the X-Ray Spectrometer, are being operated nearly continuously and will establish the average surface abundances of most major elements. The Visible and Infrared Spectrograph channel of MESSENGER's Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer is acquiring a global map of spectral reflectance from 300 to 1450 nm wavelength at a range of incidence and emission angles

  16. MESSENGER at Mercury: Early orbital operations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNutt, Ralph L.; Solomon, Sean C.; Bedini, Peter D.; Anderson, Brian J.; Blewett, David T.; Evans, Larry G.; Gold, Robert E.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Murchie, Scott L.; Nittler, Larry R.; Phillips, Roger J.; Prockter, Louise M.; Slavin, James A.; Zuber, Maria T.; Finnegan, Eric J.; Grant, David G.; MESSENGER Team

    2014-01-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, launched in August 2004 under NASA's Discovery Program, was inserted into orbit about the planet Mercury in March 2011. MESSENGER's three flybys of Mercury in 2008-2009 marked the first spacecraft visits to the innermost planet since the Mariner 10 flybys in 1974-1975. The unprecedented orbital operations are yielding new insights into the nature and evolution of Mercury. The scientific questions that frame the MESSENGER mission led to the mission measurement objectives to be achieved by the seven payload instruments and the radio science experiment. Interweaving the full set of required orbital observations in a manner that maximizes the opportunity to satisfy all mission objectives and yet meet stringent spacecraft pointing and thermal constraints was a complex optimization problem that was solved with a software tool that simulates science observations and tracks progress toward meeting each objective. The final orbital observation plan, the outcome of that optimization process, meets all mission objectives. MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System is acquiring a global monochromatic image mosaic at better than 90% coverage and at least 250 m average resolution, a global color image mosaic at better than 90% coverage and at least 1 km average resolution, and global stereo imaging at better than 80% coverage and at least 250 m average resolution. Higher-resolution images are also being acquired of targeted areas. The elemental remote sensing instruments, including the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer and the X-Ray Spectrometer, are being operated nearly continuously and will establish the average surface abundances of most major elements. The Visible and Infrared Spectrograph channel of MESSENGER's Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer is acquiring a global map of spectral reflectance from 300 to 1450 nm wavelength at a range of incidence and emission

  17. MESSENGER observations of magnetic reconnection in Mercury's magnetosphere.

    PubMed

    Slavin, James A; Acuña, Mario H; Anderson, Brian J; Baker, Daniel N; Benna, Mehdi; Boardsen, Scott A; Gloeckler, George; Gold, Robert E; Ho, George C; Korth, Haje; Krimigis, Stamatios M; McNutt, Ralph L; Raines, Jim M; Sarantos, Menelaos; Schriver, David; Solomon, Sean C; Trávnícek, Pavel; Zurbuchen, Thomas H

    2009-05-01

    Solar wind energy transfer to planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres is controlled by magnetic reconnection, a process that determines the degree of connectivity between the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) and a planet's magnetic field. During MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury, a steady southward IMF was observed and the magnetopause was threaded by a strong magnetic field, indicating a reconnection rate ~10 times that typical at Earth. Moreover, a large flux transfer event was observed in the magnetosheath, and a plasmoid and multiple traveling compression regions were observed in Mercury's magnetotail, all products of reconnection. These observations indicate that Mercury's magnetosphere is much more responsive to IMF direction and dominated by the effects of reconnection than that of Earth or the other magnetized planets. PMID:19407194

  18. The Mercury Laser Altimeter Instrument for the MESSENGER Mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cavanaugh, John F.; Smith, James C.; Sun, Xiaoli; Bartels, Arlin E.; Ramos-Izquierdo, Luis; Krebs, Danny J.; Novo-Gradac, Anne marie; McGarry, Jan F.; Trunzo, Raymond; Britt, Jamie L.

    2006-01-01

    The Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) is one of the payload science instruments on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission, which launched on 3 August 2004. The altimeter will measure the round trip time-of-flight of transmitted laser pulses reflected from the surface of the planet that, in combination with the spacecraft orbit position and pointing data, gives a high-precision measurement of surface topography referenced to Mercury's center of mass. The altimeter measurements will be used to determine the planet's forced librations by tracking the motion of large-scale topographic features as a function of time. MLA's laser pulse energy monitor and the echo pulse energy estimate will provide an active measurement of the surface reflectivity at 1064 nm. This paper describes the instrument design, prelaunch testing, calibration, and results of post-launch testing.

  19. Elevated mercury concentrations in humans of Madre de Dios, Peru.

    PubMed

    Ashe, Katy

    2012-01-01

    The enormous increase in practically unregulated mining in Madre de Dios Peru is leading to massive release of liquid elemental mercury to the environment. Rapidly increasing global prices for gold are causing a massive upsurge in artisanal mining in the Peruvian Amazon, considered to be one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. This study identifies the current levels of mercury in the human population, through identifying levels of total mercury in human hair in mining zones of Madre de Dios Department and in the nearby city of Puerto Maldonado. A regression analysis reveals that fish consumption, gender, and location of residence were significant indicators of mercury levels; while duration of residence and age had no significant relationship to mercury levels. Increased fish consumption levels were the strongest indicators of increased total mercury levels across the entire population. The levels of total mercury in hair was significantly (α = 0.05) higher in mining zones, than Puerto Maldonado. In both areas men had significantly higher levels than women, likely due to a difference in metabolism or varying levels of direct involvement in gold mining- a male predominated industry. This is the first study to show the health threat that mercury poses to this region, however further research needs to be done to gain a more refined understanding of the predominant routes of exposure in this population. PMID:22438911

  20. Making Mercury's Core with Light Elements

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vander Kaaden, Kathleen E.; McCubbin, Francis M.; Ross, D. Kent

    2016-01-01

    Recent results obtained from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft showed the surface of Mercury has low FeO abundances (less than 2 wt%) and high S abundances (approximately 4 wt%), suggesting the oxygen fugacity of Mercury's surface materials is somewhere between 3 to 7 log10 units below the IW buffer. The highly reducing nature of Mercury has resulted in a relatively thin mantle and a large core that has the potential to exhibit an exotic composition in comparison to the other terrestrial planets. This exotic composition may extend to include light elements (e.g., Si, C, S). Furthermore, has argued for a possible primary floatation crust on Mercury composed of graphite, which may require a core that is C-saturated. In order to investigate mercurian core compositions, we conducted piston cylinder experiments at 1 GPa, from 1300 C to 1700 C, using a range of starting compositions consisting of various Si-Fe metal mixtures (Si5Fe95, Si10Fe90, Si22Fe78, and Si35Fe65). All metals were loaded into graphite capsules used to ensure C-saturation during the duration of each experimental run. Our experiments show that Fe-Si metallic alloys exclude carbon relative to more Fe-rich metal. This exclusion of carbon commences within the range of 5 to 10 wt% Si. These results indicate that if Mercury has a Si-rich core (having more than approximately 5 wt% silicon), it would have saturated in carbon at low C abundances allowing for the possible formation of a graphite floatation crust as suggested by. These results have important implications for the thermal and magmatic evolution of Mercury.

  1. Water in the terrestrial planets and the moon

    SciTech Connect

    Liu, L.G.

    1988-04-01

    Current thermal models for the terrestrial planets, with the exception of Mercury, point to the probability of a partial melting zone's presence in the mantles of both Venus and Mars, but not in that of the earth; this is attested by the fact that plate tectonics is not apparent on Mars and Venus. In addition, the CO/sub 2/-dominated atmospheres of Venus and Mars may indicate that a large-scale hydrosphere has never (or only very briefly) existed on these planets. Most of the free H/sub 2/O above the water line of Venus and Mars is probably still trapped inside mantle melts. 37 references.

  2. MESSENGER observations of suprathermal electrons in Mercury's magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ho, George C.; Starr, Richard D.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; Vandegriff, Jon D.; Baker, Daniel N.; Gold, Robert E.; Anderson, Brian J.; Korth, Haje; Schriver, David; McNutt, Ralph L.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2016-01-01

    The X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft regularly detected fluorescent X-rays near Mercury induced by low-energy (1-10 keV) or suprathermal electrons. We devised an algorithm to select these events from XRS records between April 2011 and March 2015 on the basis of their duration, location, and spectral slope. We identified 3102 events during 3900 orbits around Mercury, sampling all Mercury longitudes multiple times over the 4 year period. These suprathermal electrons were present near the planet at all local times, but the majority were on the nightside of the planet, and a dawn-dusk asymmetry is seen in the data. When the event locations are plotted in a coordinate system based on a simplified magnetic field model, several distinct clusters of events are evident. We infer that all are signatures of accelerated electrons that were injected from Mercury's tail region to form a quasi-trapped electron population at Mercury.

  3. Addendum to: The brightness temperature of Mercury at 150 and 240 GHz. The brightness temperature of Mars at millimetre wavelengths

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sabbatini, L.; Pizzo, L.; Dall'Oglio, G.

    2012-12-01

    We present new measurements of Mars at 1.25 and 2mm of wavelength, in addition to the previous ones performed on Mercury and already published in our paper "The brightness temperature of Mercury at 150 and 240GHz". A brief description of the observational strategy is given, and brightness temperature of the planet is reported.

  4. Global Trends in Mercury Management

    PubMed Central

    Choi, Kyunghee

    2012-01-01

    The United Nations Environmental Program Governing Council has regulated mercury as a global pollutant since 2001 and has been preparing the mercury convention, which will have a strongly binding force through Global Mercury Assessment, Global Mercury Partnership Activities, and establishment of the Open-Ended Working Group on Mercury. The European Union maintains an inclusive strategy on risks and contamination of mercury, and has executed the Mercury Export Ban Act since December in 2010. The US Environmental Protection Agency established the Mercury Action Plan (1998) and the Mercury Roadmap (2006) and has proposed systematic mercury management methods to reduce the health risks posed by mercury exposure. Japan, which experienced Minamata disease, aims vigorously at perfection in mercury management in several ways. In Korea, the Ministry of Environment established the Comprehensive Plan and Countermeasures for Mercury Management to prepare for the mercury convention and to reduce risks of mercury to protect public health. PMID:23230466

  5. New Jersey mercury regulations

    SciTech Connect

    Elias, D.F.; Corbin, W.E.

    1996-12-31

    Mercury, or quicksilver, and its major ore cinnabar (HgS) have been known for thousands of years. Health effects from mercury such as dementia were known as early as the late 19th century ({open_quotes}mad as a hatter{close_quotes}). In the 1960`s and 1970`s, reported levels of mercury in tuna reawakened public awareness of mercury pollution. In the 1970`s, major epidemics of acute mercury poisoning were reported in Japan and Iraq. These incidents highlighted the extreme health risks, such as kidney damage, birth defects, and death, associated with severe mercury poisoning. Fetuses and young children are particularly vulnerable since mercury poisoning can damage growing neural tissues. Recently, the perception of mercury as a dangerous pollutant has been on the rise. Advisories warning the public to avoid or reduce the consumption of freshwater fish caught in specific waterbodies due to mercury contamination have been issued in numerous states. The discovery of mercury in {open_quotes}pristine{close_quotes} lakes in the United States, Canada, and Scandinavia, remote from industry and any known mercury sources, has focused attention on atmospheric emissions of mercury as potential significant sources of mercury.

  6. European astronomers observe first evaporating planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2003-03-01

    planet’s upper atmosphere under the searing heat from the star. "The atmosphere is heated, the hydrogen escapes the planet's gravitational pull and is pushed away by the starlight, fanning out in a large tail behind the planet - like that of a comet," says Alain Lecavelier des Etangs, of the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. Astronomers estimate the amount of hydrogen gas escaping from HD 209458b to be at least 10 000 tonnes per second, but possibly much more. The planet may therefore already have lost quite a lot of its mass. HD 209458b belongs to a type of extrasolar planet known as ‘hot Jupiters’. These planets orbit precariously close to their stars. They are giant gaseous planets that must have formed in the cold outer reaches of the star system and then spiralled into their close orbits. This new discovery might help explain why ‘hot Jupiters’ so often orbit a few million kilometres from their parent stars. They are not usually found much closer than 7 million kilometres, the distance in the case of HD 209458b. Currently, the closest is 5.7 million kilometres. Hot Jupiters have orbits as brief as 3 days, but no less. Perhaps the evaporation of the atmosphere plays a role in setting an inner boundary for orbits of hot Jupiters. Notes for editors HD 209458b has a diameter 1.3 times that of Jupiter, and two-thirds the mass. Its orbit is one-eighth the size of Mercury's orbit around the Sun. The parent star is similar to our Sun and lies 150 light-years from Earth. It is visible with binoculars as a seventh magnitude star in the constellation of Pegasus. In 1999, this star suddenly entered the astronomical Hall of Fame when the extrasolar planet HD 209458b passed in front of it and partly eclipsed it. This was the first confirmed transiting extrasolar planet ever discovered. In 2001, Hubble detected the element sodium in the lower part of HD 209458b’s atmosphere, the first signature of an atmosphere on any extrasolar planet. The team is composed of A

  7. Planets in Motion

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Riddle, Bob

    2005-01-01

    All the planets in the solar system revolve around the Sun in the same direction, clockwise when viewed from above the North Pole. This is referred to as direct motion. From the perspective on the Earth's surface, the planets travel east across the sky in relation to the background of stars. The Sun also moves eastward daily, but this is an…

  8. March of the Planets

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Thompson, Bruce

    2007-01-01

    The motion of the planets in their orbits can be demonstrated to students by using planetarium software programs. These allow time to be sped up so that the relative motions are readily observed. However, it is also valuable to have the students understand the real speed of the planets in their orbits. This paper describes an exercise that gives…

  9. Name That Planet!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Beck, Judy; Rust, Cindy

    2002-01-01

    Presents an activity in which students in groups explore one planet in the solar system and present their findings to the whole class. Focuses on the planet's location in the solar system, geological features, rate of revolutions, and calendar year. (YDS)

  10. Planets in Transit V Passages of Discovery

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Castellano, T. P.

    2003-05-01

    Eclipses of the Sun have long influenced culture, history, and science. The analogous but much more subtle phenomena of a transit of the Sun by Mercury was first predicted by Johannes Kepler. Soon, predictions of transits of Venus inspired bold expeditions to better understand the scale of our solar system. These passages of discovery sometimes succeeded scientifically but always captured the public imagination and played an unexpected role in history. The possibility of detecting planets outside the solar system by the transit method was first outlined by Otto Struve in 1952. Early inquiries usually assumed that extrasolar planetary systems would have a distribution of planetary radii and orbital sizes like the solar system. The detection of transits from the ground in such systems would be daunting. The recent, unexpected discovery of a class of extrasolar planets (by the radial velocity technique) with orbital periods less than a week and masses near to the planet Jupiter has resulted in a resurgence of interest in the transit method. These so called "hot Jupiters", can produce transits that are likely enough, frequent enough, the transit method. These so called "hot Jupiters", can produce transits that are likely enough, frequent enough, and deep enough that ground-based transit searches can be successful. In November 1999, a planet orbiting the star HD 209458 was found to transit, and many measurements of the transit have since been made that challenge formation and evolution theories. Numerous ground based searches for transits are now underway. Several planned high precision space-based missions designed to detect transits of earth-sized planets, also have the potential to detect transits of hundreds of "hot Jupiters". These efforts and the upcoming transit of the Sun by Venus on June 8, 2004 present an opportunity for transits to once again capture the public imagination and perhaps play a role in history.

  11. Mercury's Surface Magnetic Field Determined from Proton-Reflection Magnetometry

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Winslow, Reka M.; Johnson, Catherine L.; Anderson, Brian J.; Gershman, Daniel J.; Raines, Jim M.; Lillis, Robert J.; Korth, Haje; Slavin, James A.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.; Zuber, Maria T.

    2014-01-01

    Solar wind protons observed by the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit about Mercury exhibit signatures of precipitation loss to Mercury's surface. We apply proton-reflection magnetometry to sense Mercury's surface magnetic field intensity in the planet's northern and southern hemispheres. The results are consistent with a dipole field offset to the north and show that the technique may be used to resolve regional-scale fields at the surface. The proton loss cones indicate persistent ion precipitation to the surface in the northern magnetospheric cusp region and in the southern hemisphere at low nightside latitudes. The latter observation implies that most of the surface in Mercury's southern hemisphere is continuously bombarded by plasma, in contrast with the premise that the global magnetic field largely protects the planetary surface from the solar wind.

  12. Laser altimeter observations from MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby.

    PubMed

    Zuber, Maria T; Smith, David E; Solomon, Sean C; Phillips, Roger J; Peale, Stanton J; Head, James W; Hauck, Steven A; McNutt, Ralph L; Oberst, Jürgen; Neumann, Gregory A; Lemoine, Frank G; Sun, Xiaoli; Barnouin-Jha, Olivier; Harmon, John K

    2008-07-01

    A 3200-kilometers-long profile of Mercury by the Mercury Laser Altimeter on the MESSENGER spacecraft spans approximately 20% of the near-equatorial region of the planet. Topography along the profile is characterized by a 5.2-kilometer dynamic range and 930-meter root-mean-square roughness. At long wavelengths, topography slopes eastward by 0.02 degrees , implying a variation of equatorial shape that is at least partially compensated. Sampled craters on Mercury are shallower than their counterparts on the Moon, at least in part the result of Mercury's higher gravity. Crater floors vary in roughness and slope, implying complex modification over a range of length scales. PMID:18599773

  13. Mercury's weak magnetic field: A result of magnetospheric feedback?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gómez-Pérez, Natalia; Solomon, Sean C.

    2010-10-01

    The internal magnetic field of Mercury is anomalously weak compared with the fields of other solar system dynamos. Here we investigate the effect that magnetospheric currents may have on the internal dynamo process. Although strong dipolar dynamos are not markedly affected by such magnetospheric currents, a dynamo in a weak-dipole state can be stabilized in such a configuration by magnetospheric feedback. We suggest that Mercury's core dynamo was stabilized in a weak-field state early in Mercury's history, when the solar wind was much stronger than today, and has been maintained in that state to the present by magnetospheric feedback. A prediction of this scenario is that secular variation should occur more rapidly for Mercury's internal field than would be expected for some other models for the planet's weak field.

  14. Formation of giant planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Magni, G.; Coradini, A.

    2003-04-01

    In this presentation we address the problem of the formation of giant planets and their regular satellites. We study in particular the problem of formation of the Jupiter System comparing the results of the model with the present characteristics of the system, in order to identify what are those better represented by our approach. In fact here, using a 3-D hydro-dynamical code, we study the modalities of gas accretion onto a solid core, believed to be the seed from which Jupiter started. To do that we have modelled three main regions: the central planet, a turbulent accretion disk surrounding it and an extended region from which the gas is collected. In the extended region we treat the gas as a frictionless fluid. Our main goal is to identify what are the characteristics of the planet during its growth and the physical parameters affecting its growth at the expenses of the nebular gas present in the feeding zone. Moreover we want to understand what are the thermodynamical parameters characterizing the gas captured by the planet and swirling around it. Finally, we check if a disk can be formed in prograde rotation around the planet and if this disk can survive the final phases of the planet formation. Due to the interaction between the accreting planet and the disk it has been necessary to develop a complete model of the Jupiter’s structure. In fact the radiation emitted by the growing planet heats up the surrounding gas. In turn the planet’s thermodynamic structure depend on the mass accretion rate onto it. When the accretion is rapid, shock waves in the gas are formed close to the planet. This region cannot be safely treated by a numerical code; for this reason we have developed a semi-analytically model of a a turbulent accretion disk to be considered as transition between the planet and the surrounding disk.

  15. The Soviet-American Conference on Cosmochemistry of the Moon and Planets, Part 1

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pomeroy, J. H. (Editor); Hubbard, N. J. (Editor)

    1977-01-01

    The basic goal of the conference was consideration of the origin of the planets of the solar system, based on the physical and chemical data obtained by study of the material of the moon and planets. Papers at the conference were presented in the following sessions: (1) Differentiation of the material of the moon and planets; (2) The thermal history of the moon; (3) Lunar gravitation and magnetism; (4) Chronology of the moon, planets, and meteorites; (5) The role of exogenic factors in the formation of the lunar surface; (6) Cosmochemical hypotheses about the origin and evolution of the moon and planets; and (7) New data about the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

  16. Bottom-up Crystallization of Mercury's Core

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Edgington, A.; Vocadlo, L.; Stixrude, L. P.; Wood, I. G.

    2014-12-01

    Knowledge of the composition, structure and physical properties of the materials in a planet's interior is fundamental to understanding the evolution of the planet, and the environment from which it formed. Using ab-initio molecular dynamics we have studied the equation of state and thermodynamic properties of pure liquid iron at the conditions of Mercury's deep interior. This work has paid particular attention to the effects of magnetism on the simulations, as changes in the magnetic moments of the atoms may affect the physical properties of iron. Initial results suggest a very gradual high to low spin transition in pure liquid iron, which is expected to remain predominantly in the high spin state throughout the conditions of Mercury's core. We have determined thermodynamic properties such as the thermal expansion, Grüneisen parameter and constant volume specific heat directly from the calculations, such that we have also determined the adiabatic temperature gradient of pure liquid iron. This has been found to be lower than published melting curves [1,2] of iron suggesting bottom up crystallization in Mercury's core. References: [1] Williams et al. (1987) Science, 10.1126/science.236.4798.181 [2] Alfè et al. (1999) Nature, 401: 462-464, 10.1038/46758

  17. Changing Perspectives on Mercury and the Moon

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Denevi, Brett W.

    2015-11-01

    Airless, cratered, and not so different in size, the Moon and Mercury form a natural pair in the inner Solar System. For decades after the 1974 and 1975 Mariner 10 flybys of Mercury, with little compositional information, no concrete evidence for volcanism, and images of less than half of the planet, it was thought that Mercury’s surface may be similar to the lunar highlands: an ancient anorthositic flotation crust subsequently shaped mainly by impact cratering. However, observations from the recently completed MESSENGER mission to Mercury have upended our view of the innermost planet, revealing, for example, a crust that may be rich in graphite and that has been extensively resurfaced by volcanic activity, and geologic activity that may continue today to produce enigmatic “hollows” - a crust very different from that of the Moon. Meanwhile, the Moon has undergone its own revolution, as data from recent spacecraft such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal sites of silicic volcanism indicative of complex differentiation in the mantle, tectonic activity that may be ongoing, recent volcanic activity that alters the paradigm that volcanism died on the Moon over a billion years ago, and evidence that the early chronology of the inner Solar System may not be as well known as once thought. As our views of these two bodies evolve, a new understanding of their differences informs our knowledge of the variety of processes and styles of planetary evolution, and their similarities point to commonalities among all airless bodies.

  18. Mercury Surveillance Program

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1993-01-01

    Background on mercury exposure is presented including forms, sources, permissible exposure limits, and physiological effects. The purpose of the Mercury Surveillance Program at LeRC is outlined, and the specifics of the Medical Surveillance Program for Mercury Exposure at LeRC are discussed.

  19. MERCURY IN THE ENVIRONMENT

    EPA Science Inventory

    Mercury is released from a variety of sources and exhibits a complicated chemistry. According to the Mercury Study Report to Congress, mercury fluxes and budgets in water, soil, and other media have increased by a factor of two to five over pre-industrial levels. The primary expo...

  20. Mercury in the environment

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Fulkerson, W.; Lyon, W. S.; Shults, W. D.; Wallace, R. A.

    1972-01-01

    Problems in assessing mercury concentrations in environmental materials are discussed. Data for situations involving air, water, rocks, soils, sediments, sludges, fossil fuels, plants, animals, foods, and man are drawn together and briefly evaluated. Details are provided regarding the toxicity of mercury along with tentative standards and guidelines for mercury in air, drinking water, and food.

  1. Planetary science. Low-altitude magnetic field measurements by MESSENGER reveal Mercury's ancient crustal field.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Catherine L; Phillips, Roger J; Purucker, Michael E; Anderson, Brian J; Byrne, Paul K; Denevi, Brett W; Feinberg, Joshua M; Hauck, Steven A; Head, James W; Korth, Haje; James, Peter B; Mazarico, Erwan; Neumann, Gregory A; Philpott, Lydia C; Siegler, Matthew A; Tsyganenko, Nikolai A; Solomon, Sean C

    2015-05-22

    Magnetized rocks can record the history of the magnetic field of a planet, a key constraint for understanding its evolution. From orbital vector magnetic field measurements of Mercury taken by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft at altitudes below 150 kilometers, we have detected remanent magnetization in Mercury's crust. We infer a lower bound on the average age of magnetization of 3.7 to 3.9 billion years. Our findings indicate that a global magnetic field driven by dynamo processes in the fluid outer core operated early in Mercury's history. Ancient field strengths that range from those similar to Mercury's present dipole field to Earth-like values are consistent with the magnetic field observations and with the low iron content of Mercury's crust inferred from MESSENGER elemental composition data. PMID:25953822

  2. Mercury's rotational state from combined MESSENGER laser altimeter and image data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stark, Alexander; Oberst, Jürgen; Preusker, Frank; Margot, Jean-Luc; Phillips, Roger J.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria T.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2016-04-01

    With orbital data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, we measured the rotational state of Mercury. We developed a novel approach that combined digital terrain models from stereo images (stereo DTMs) and laser altimeter data, and we applied it to 3 years of MESSENGER observations. We find a large libration amplitude, which in combination with the measured obliquity confirms that Mercury possesses a liquid outer core. Our results confirm previous Earth-based observations of Mercury's rotational state. However, we measured a rotation rate that deviates significantly from the mean resonant rotation rate. The larger rotation rate can be interpreted as the signature of a long-period libration cycle. From these findings we derived new constraints on the interior structure of Mercury. The measured rotational parameters define Mercury's body-fixed frame and are critical for the coordinate system of the planet as well as for planning the future BepiColombo spacecraft mission.

  3. Polygonal Craters on Dwarf-Planet Ceres

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Otto, K. A.; Jaumann, R.; Krohn, K.; Buczkowski, D. L.; von der Gathen, I.; Kersten, E.; Mest, S. C.; Preusker, F.; Roatsch, T.; Schenk, P. M.; Schröder, S.; Schulzeck, F.; Scully, J. E. C.; Stepahn, K.; Wagner, R.; Williams, D. A.; Raymond, C. A.; Russell, C. T.

    2015-10-01

    With approximately 950 km diameter and a mass of #1/3 of the total mass of the asteroid belt, (1) Ceres is the largest and most massive object in the Main Asteroid Belt. As an intact proto-planet, Ceres is key to understanding the origin and evolution of the terrestrialplanets [1]. In particular, the role of water during planet formation is of interest, because the differentiated dwarf-planet is thought to possess a water rich mantle overlying a rocky core [2]. The Dawn space craft arrived at Ceres in March this year after completing its mission at (4) Vesta. At Ceres, the on-board Framing Camera (FC) collected image data which revealed a large variety of impact crater morphologies including polygonal craters (Figure 1). Polygonal craters show straight rim sections aligned to form an angular shape. They are commonly associated with fractures in the target material. Simple polygonal craters develop during the excavation stage when the excavation flow propagates faster along preexisting fractures [3, 5]. Complex polygonal craters adopt their shape during the modification stage when slumping along fractures is favoured [3]. Polygonal craters are known from a variety of planetary bodies including Earth [e.g. 4], the Moon [e.g. 5], Mars [e.g. 6], Mercury [e.g. 7], Venus [e.g. 8] and outer Solar System icy satellites [e.g. 9].

  4. Tectonic evolution of the terrestrial planets.

    PubMed

    Head, J W; Solomon, S C

    1981-07-01

    The style and evolution of tectonics on the terrestrial planets differ substantially. The style is related to the thickness of the lithosphere and to whether the lithosphere is divided into distinct, mobile plates that can be recycled into the mantle, as on Earth, or is a single spherical shell, as on the moon, Mars, and Mercury. The evolution of a planetary lithosphere and the development of plate tectonics appear to be influenced by several factors, including planetary size, chemistry, and external and internal heat sources. Vertical tectonic movement due to lithospheric loading or uplift is similar on all of the terrestrial planets and is controlled by the local thickness and rheology of the lithosphere. The surface of Venus, although known only at low resolution, displays features both similar to those on Earth (mountain belts, high plateaus) and similar to those on the smaller planets (possible impact basins). Improved understanding of the tectonic evolution of Venus will permit an evaluation of the relative roles of planetary size and chemistry in determining evolutionary style. PMID:17741171

  5. Hazards to Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bally, J.

    2001-05-01

    The Orion Nebula provides a remarkable window on the first few million years in the lives of typical young stars and planetary systems. HST has demonstrated that most young stars in the Nebula are surrounded by circumstellar disks (the so-called `proplyds'). While these observations show that planet forming environments may be common, they also demonstrate that Orion's disks are being destroyed by intense UV radiation fields. `Gravel' sufficiently large to resist photo-erosion (meter scale solids or ices) may lock-up sufficient material to eventually build rocky planets. Indeed, there is evidence for large solids in some proplyds. But, the hydrogen and helium needed for the formation of giant planets will be removed. To form in Orion-like environments, giant planets must be assembled promptly prior to UV exposure. Even rocky planets may not form if the photoionized disk corona causes surviving large particles in the disk to spiral into the central star. Thus, nearby massive stars pose severe hazards to planet formation. Star counts indicate that most stars form in Orion-like environments. Only about 10% of young stars are born in shielded environments such as the Taurus or L1641 clouds where disks may escape photo-erosion. In dark clouds, the majority of stars (> 80%) form in non-hierarchal multiple star systems where close encounters with sibling stars can destroy disks and eject young planets. Thus, most stars may never develop planetary systems. These considerations indicate that extra-Solar planets may be rare, contrary to the popular view. These conclusions are consistent with the recent discoveries of extra-Solar planets around a few percent of single stars.

  6. The Gemini Planet Imager

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macintosh, Bruce; Graham, James; Palmer, David; Doyon, Rene; Gavel, Don; Larkin, James; Oppenheimer, Ben; Saddlemyer, Leslie; Wallace, J. Kent; Bauman, Brian; Evans, Julia; Erikson, Darren; Morzinski, Katie; Phillion, Donald; Poyneer, Lisa; Sivaramakrishnan, Anand; Soummer, Remi; Thibault, Simon; Veran, Jean-Pierre

    2006-06-01

    The next major frontier in the study of extrasolar planets is direct imaging detection of the planets themselves. With high-order adaptive optics, careful system design, and advanced coronagraphy, it is possible for an AO system on a 8-m class telescope to achieve contrast levels of 10 -7 to 10 -8, sufficient to detect warm self-luminous Jovian planets in the solar neighborhood. Such direct detection is sensitive to planets inaccessible to current radial-velocity surveys and allows spectral characterization of the planets, shedding light on planet formation and the structure of other solar systems. We have begun the construction of such a system for the Gemini Observatory. Dubbed the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), this instrument should be deployed in 2010 on the Gemini South telescope. It combines a 2000-actuator MEMS-based AO system, an apodized-pupil Lyot coronagraph, a precision infrared interferometer for real-time wavefront calibration at the nanometer level, and a infrared integral field spectrograph for detection and characterization of the target planets. GPI will be able to achieve Strehl ratios > 0.9 at 1.65 microns and to observe a broad sample of science targets with I band magnitudes less than 8. In addition to planet detection, GPI will also be capable of polarimetric imaging of circumstellar dust disks, studies of evolved stars, and high-Strehl imaging spectroscopy of bright targets. We present here an overview of the GPI instrument design, an error budget highlighting key technological challenges, and models of the system performance.

  7. The Gemini Planet Imager

    SciTech Connect

    Macintosh, B; al., e

    2006-05-02

    The next major frontier in the study of extrasolar planets is direct imaging detection of the planets themselves. With high-order adaptive optics, careful system design, and advanced coronagraphy, it is possible for an AO system on a 8-m class telescope to achieve contrast levels of 10{sup -7} to 10{sup -8}, sufficient to detect warm self-luminous Jovian planets in the solar neighborhood. Such direct detection is sensitive to planets inaccessible to current radial-velocity surveys and allows spectral characterization of the planets, shedding light on planet formation and the structure of other solar systems. We have begun the construction of such a system for the Gemini Observatory. Dubbed the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), this instrument should be deployed in 2010 on the Gemini South telescope. It combines a 2000-actuator MEMS-based AO system, an apodized-pupil Lyot coronagraph, a precision infrared interferometer for real-time wavefront calibration at the nanometer level, and a infrared integral field spectrograph for detection and characterization of the target planets. GPI will be able to achieve Strehl ratios > 0.9 at 1.65 microns and to observe a broad sample of science targets with I band magnitudes less than 8. In addition to planet detection, GPI will also be capable of polarimetric imaging of circumstellar dust disks, studies of evolved stars, and high-Strehl imaging spectroscopy of bright targets. We present here an overview of the GPI instrument design, an error budget highlighting key technological challenges, and models of the system performance.

  8. Planet formation and searches

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Montgomery, Ryan Michael

    2009-08-01

    This thesis explores the possibilities for discovery of terrestrial-mass planets in the habitable zones of their host stars. Towards this aim, we present the results of three projects and discuss another two preliminary studies of further explorations. In so doing, we explore a fairly comprehensive range of possibilities regarding the formation and detection of terrestrial- mass planets in the habitable zone. We first study the potential for terrestrial planets to form in situ in and around the habitable zones of M-dwarf stars. We proceed to explore the feasibility of searches for these planets using the transit method via Monte- Carlo simulations. We find that M-dwarfs pose an interesting challenge for study: being inherently dim, widely spread on the sky, and photometrically variable. We present results of simulated ground-based transit search campaigns as well as simulated searches from a modest satellite mission. Our second project is a straightforward extension of the previous study: a collaborative effort to search for transit signals around the nearest M-dwarf: Proxima Centauri. We describe our observations as well as the Monte-Carlo analysis used to place constraints on the possible planetary radii and periods. Our third project is a search for transiting extra-solar Jovian planets using the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect. We search through the private Keck radial- velocity datasets for undiscovered Rossiter-McLaughlin signals. We present our results in the form of both strong null-result datasets as well as potential transiting systems. We then briefly analyze these larger Jovian planets for potential to harbor potentially habitable terrestrial satellites. Our final preliminary analysis looks into the potential for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope to detect transiting Neptune-mass planets orbiting M-dwarfs which could then lead to terrestrial-mass planet detections. The sum of these efforts is a comprehensive investigation into the likelihood and

  9. Impact Vaporization as a Possible Source of Mercury's Calcium Exosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Killen, Rosemary M.; Hahn, Joseph M.

    2015-01-01

    Mercury's calcium exosphere varies in a periodic way with that planet's true anomaly. We show that this pattern can be explained by impact vaporization from interplanetary dust with variations being due to Mercury's radial and vertical excursions through an interplanetary dust disk having an inclination within 5 degrees of the plane of Mercury's orbit. Both a highly inclined dust disk and a two-disk model (where the two disks have a mutual inclination) fail to reproduce the observed variation in calcium exospheric abundance with Mercury true anomaly angle. However, an additional source of impacting dust beyond the nominal dust disk is required near Mercury's true anomaly (?) 25deg +/-5deg. This is close to but not coincident with Mercury's true anomaly (?=45deg) when it crosses comet 2P/Encke's present day orbital plane. Interestingly, the Taurid meteor storms at Earth, which are also due to Comet Encke, are observed to occur when Earth's true anomaly is +/-20 or so degrees before and after the position where Earth and Encke orbital planes cross. The lack of exact correspondence with the present day orbit of Encke may indicate the width of the potential stream along Mercury's orbit or a previous cometary orbit. The extreme energy of the escaping calcium, estimated to have a temperature greater than 50000 K if the source is thermal, cannot be due to the impact process itself but must be imparted by an additional mechanism such as dissociation of a calcium-bearing molecule or ionization followed by recombination.

  10. Observations of Mercury's magnetic field

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ness, N. F.; Behannon, K. W.; Lepping, R. P.; Whang, Y. C.

    1975-01-01

    Magnetic field data obtained by Mariner 10 during the third and final encounter with the planet Mercury on 16 March 1975 were studied. A well developed bow shock and modest magnetosphere, previously observed at first encounter on 29 March 1974, were again observed. In addition, a much stronger magnetic field near closest approach, 400 gamma versus 98 gamma, was observed at an altitude of 327 km and approximately 70 deg north Mercurian latitude. Spherical harmonic analysis of the data provide an estimate of the centered planetary magnetic dipole of 4.7 x 10 to the 22nd power Gauss/cu cm with the axis tilted 12 deg to the rotation axis and in the same sense as Earth's. The interplanetary field was sufficiently different between first and third encounters that in addition to the very large field magnitude observed, it argues strongly against a complex induction process generating the observed planetary field. While a possibility exists that Mercury possesses a remanent field due to magnetization early in its formation, a present day active dynamo seems to be a more likely candidate for its origin.

  11. The physical characteristics of surface Earth-like planets, dwarf and small (asteroids) planets, and their companions, according to distance studies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vidmachenko, A. P.; Morozhenko, O. V.

    2014-01-01

    The history of exploration and cosmogony of Solar System bodies, the current state of the planetary cosmogony, the process of formation planets and their satellites; the features of the internal structure of terrestrial planets and of the Moon, magnetic fields of the terrestrial planets, satellites and asteroids; the general question of forming of diffusely reflected radiation of rough surfaces, lighting conditions, the parameters of reflected radiation fields (photometric, polarization and thermal properties), radar observations was considered. Given the main results of the study of the Moon, Earth-like planets (Mars, Mercury, Venus) dwarf and small (asteroids) planets Publication is targeted for teachers of higher educational institutions, students and graduate students and specialists who specialize in the study of physical methods, experimental physics and solar system bodies

  12. The planets and life.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Young, R. S.

    1971-01-01

    It is pointed out that planetary exploration is not simply a program designed to detect life on another planet. A planet similar to earth, such as Mars, when studied for evidence as to why life did not arise, may turn out to be scientifically more important than a planet which has already produced a living system. Of particular interest after Mars are Venus and Jupiter. Jupiter has a primitive atmosphere which may well be synthesizing organic molecules today. Speculations have been made concerning the possibility of a bio-zone in the upper atmosphere of Venus.

  13. Making an Iron Planet: The Case for Repeated Hit and Run Collisions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Asphaug, E. I.; Reufer, A.

    2014-12-01

    Earth, Venus, Mars and some of the largest asteroids have massive silicate mantles surrounding iron cores, and chondritic compositions. Against this backdrop are anomalies like the iron planet Mercury, and the Moon with almost no core, and metallic asteroids like Psyche. The Moon can be explained by giant impact, but for Mercury a giant impact (Benz et al., Icarus 1988) is problematic. Mercury must retain substantial volatiles after its obliteration (e.g. Peplowski et al., Science 2011), and must somehow avoid accreting its ejected silicates (Gladman and Coffey, MAPS 2009). SPH simulations have shown (Asphaug and Reufer, Nature Geosciences 2014; Sarid et al., LPSC 2014) that a differentiated chondritic proto-Mercury about 3 times its present mass can be stripped of its mantle in one energetic hit and run collision with a larger planet (proto-Venus or proto-Earth). To preserve Mercury's volatiles we also consider the scenario of lower energy hit and runs, in succession. We show that if 20 Mars-like planets accreted stochastically to form Venus and the Earth, then the statistics of attrition is likely to lead to one planet (Mercury) expressing repeated mantle stripping, and another planet (Mars) relatively undisturbed. For iron asteroids the "missing mantle paradox" likewise looms prominent. Where does it go, and how do we strip away so much mantle rock (in some cases down to a bare iron core; Yang et al., Nature 2007, Moskovitz et al., EPSL 2011) while leaving asteroids like Vesta presumably intact? According to the hit and run hypothesis, the sink for all this missing silicate is the larger accreted bodies at the top of the feeding chain, as they win the pairwise dynamical competition for stripped materials. This exotic origin of relics is only relevant to those few pairwise encounters that do not accrete both bodies. So the small survivors are lucky, and how they are lucky -- their attrition bias -- is manifested as compositional diversity and a preponderance of

  14. The evolution of the moon and the terrestrial planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoez, M. N.; Johnston, D. H.

    1974-01-01

    The thermal evolutions of the Moon, Mars, Venus and Mercury are calculated theoretically starting from cosmochemical condensation models. An assortment of geological, geochemical and geophysical data are used to constrain both the present day temperatures and the thermal histories of the planets' interiors. Such data imply that the planets were heated during or shortly after formation and that all the terrestrial planets started their differentiations early in their history. The moon, smallest in size, is characterized as a differentiated body with a crust, a thick solid mantle and an interior region which may be partially molten. Mars, intermediate in size, is assumed to have differentiated an Fe-FeS core. Venus is characterized as a planet not unlike the earth in many respects. Core formation has occurred probably during the first billion years after the formation. Mercury, which probably has a large core, may have a 500 km thick solid lithosphere and a partially molten core if it is assumed that some heat sources exist in the core.

  15. Discovery of calcium in Mercury's atmosphere.

    PubMed

    Bida, T A; Killen, R M; Morgan, T H

    2000-03-01

    The composition and evolutionary history of Mercury's crust are not well determined. The planet as a whole has been predicted to have a refractory, anhydrous composition: rich in Ca, Al, Mg and Fe, but poor in Na, K, OH, and S. Its atmosphere is believed to be derived in large part from the surface materials. A combination of effects that include impact vaporization (from infalling material), volatile evaporation, photon-stimulated desorption and sputtering releases material from the surface to form the atmosphere. Sodium and potassium have already been observed in Mercury's atmosphere, with abundances that require a volatile-rich crust. The sodium probably results from photon-stimulated desorption, and has a temperature of 1,500 K (ref. 10). Here we report the discovery of calcium in the atmosphere near Mercury's poles. The column density is very low and the temperature is apparently very high (12,000 K). The localized distribution and high temperature, if confirmed, suggest that the atmospheric calcium may arise from surface sputtering by ions, which enter Mercury's auroral zone. The low abundance of atmospheric Ca may indicate that the regolith is rarefied in calcium. PMID:10724161

  16. A deep dynamo generating Mercury's magnetic field.

    PubMed

    Christensen, Ulrich R

    2006-12-21

    Mercury has a global magnetic field of internal origin and it is thought that a dynamo operating in the fluid part of Mercury's large iron core is the most probable cause. However, the low intensity of Mercury's magnetic field--about 1% the strength of the Earth's field--cannot be reconciled with an Earth-like dynamo. With the common assumption that Coriolis and Lorentz forces balance in planetary dynamos, a field thirty times stronger is expected. Here I present a numerical model of a dynamo driven by thermo-compositional convection associated with inner core solidification. The thermal gradient at the core-mantle boundary is subadiabatic, and hence the outer region of the liquid core is stably stratified with the dynamo operating only at depth, where a strong field is generated. Because of the planet's slow rotation the resulting magnetic field is dominated by small-scale components that fluctuate rapidly with time. The dynamo field diffuses through the stable conducting region, where rapidly varying parts are strongly attenuated by the skin effect, while the slowly varying dipole and quadrupole components pass to some degree. The model explains the observed structure and strength of Mercury's surface magnetic field and makes predictions that are testable with space missions both presently flying and planned. PMID:17183319

  17. Mercury's atmosphere - A perspective after Mariner 10

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kumar, S.

    1976-01-01

    Implications of Mariner 10 observations are discussed regarding the composition and structure of Mercury's atmosphere as well as its interaction with the solar wind. The Mariner 10 data cited indicate that Mercury's atmosphere is apparently similar to that on the moon. It is shown that helium could be supplied to the atmosphere either by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium in the planetary crust or by accretion of a small fraction of the solar-wind flux. It is noted that the absence of argon could be explained by a potassium-deficient crust, but this conclusion is by no means firm. Upper limits for outgassing of H2O and CO2 are estimated which suggest that either the planet is deficient in volatiles or is relatively inactive in comparison with earth.

  18. Kepler's Multiple Planet Systems

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.

    2012-01-01

    Among the 1800 Kepler targets that have candidate planets, 20% have two or more candidate planets. While most of these objects have not yet been confirmed as true planets, several considerations strongly suggest that the vast majority of these multi-candidate systems are true planetary systems. Virtually all candidate systems are stable, as tested by numerical integrations (assuming a nominal mass-radius relationship). Statistical studies performed on these candidates reveal a great deal about the architecture of planetary systems, including the typical spacing of orbits and flatness of planetary systems. The distribution of observed period ratios shows that the vast majority of candidate pairs are neither in nor near low-order mean motion resonances. Nonetheless, there are small but statistically significant excesses of candidate pairs both in resonance and spaced slightly too far apart to be in resonance, particularly near the 2:1 resonance. The characteristics of the confirmed Kepler multi-planet systems will also be discussed.

  19. Magnetic Mystery Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fillingim, M. O.; Brain, D. A.; Peticolas, L. M.; Yan, D.; Fricke, K. W.; Thrall, L.

    2013-12-01

    The magnetic fields of the large terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are all vastly different from each other. These differences can tell us a lot about the interior structure, interior history, and even give us clues to the atmospheric history of these planets. This presentation highlights a classroom presentation and accompanying activity that focuses on the differences between the magnetic fields of Venus, Earth, and Mars, what these differences mean, and how we measure these differences. During the activity, students make magnetic field measurements and draw magnetic field lines around "mystery planets" using orbiting "spacecraft" (small compasses). Based on their observations, the students then determine whether they are orbiting Venus-like, Earth-like, or Mars-like planets. This activity is targeted to middle/high school age audiences. However, we also show a scaled-down version that has been used with elementary school age audiences.

  20. Managing Planet Earth.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clark, William C.

    1989-01-01

    Discusses the human use of the planet earth. Describes the global patterns and the regional aspects of change. Four requirements for the cultivation of leadership and institutional competence are suggested. Lists five references for further reading. (YP)

  1. Students Discover Unique Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2008-12-01

    Three undergraduate students, from Leiden University in the Netherlands, have discovered an extrasolar planet. The extraordinary find, which turned up during their research project, is about five times as massive as Jupiter. This is also the first planet discovered orbiting a fast-rotating hot star. Omega Centauri ESO PR Photo 45a/08 A planet around a hot star The students were testing a method of investigating the light fluctuations of thousands of stars in the OGLE database in an automated way. The brightness of one of the stars was found to decrease for two hours every 2.5 days by about one percent. Follow-up observations, taken with ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, confirmed that this phenomenon is caused by a planet passing in front of the star, blocking part of the starlight at regular intervals. According to Ignas Snellen, supervisor of the research project, the discovery was a complete surprise. "The project was actually meant to teach the students how to develop search algorithms. But they did so well that there was time to test their algorithm on a so far unexplored database. At some point they came into my office and showed me this light curve. I was completely taken aback!" The students, Meta de Hoon, Remco van der Burg, and Francis Vuijsje, are very enthusiastic. "It is exciting not just to find a planet, but to find one as unusual as this one; it turns out to be the first planet discovered around a fast rotating star, and it's also the hottest star found with a planet," says Meta. "The computer needed more than a thousand hours to do all the calculations," continues Remco. The planet is given the prosaic name OGLE2-TR-L9b. "But amongst ourselves we call it ReMeFra-1, after Remco, Meta, and myself," says Francis. The planet was discovered by looking at the brightness variations of about 15 700 stars, which had been observed by the OGLE survey once or twice per night for about four years between 1997 and 2000. Because the data had been made public

  2. Planets Around Neutron Stars

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wolszczan, Alexander; Kulkarni, Shrinivas R; Anderson, Stuart B.

    2003-01-01

    The objective of this proposal was to continue investigations of neutron star planetary systems in an effort to describe and understand their origin, orbital dynamics, basic physical properties and their relationship to planets around normal stars. This research represents an important element of the process of constraining the physics of planet formation around various types of stars. The research goals of this project included long-term timing measurements of the planets pulsar, PSR B1257+12, to search for more planets around it and to study the dynamics of the whole system, and sensitive searches for millisecond pulsars to detect further examples of old, rapidly spinning neutron stars with planetary systems. The instrumentation used in our project included the 305-m Arecibo antenna with the Penn State Pulsar Machine (PSPM), the 100-m Green Bank Telescope with the Berkeley- Caltech Pulsar Machine (BCPM), and the 100-m Effelsberg and 64-m Parkes telescopes equipped with the observatory supplied backend hardware.

  3. The planet Saturn (1970)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1972-01-01

    The present-day knowledge on Saturn and its environment are described for designers of spacecraft which are to encounter and investigate the planet. The discussion includes physical properties of the planet, gravitational field, magnetic and electric fields, electromagnetic radiation, satellites and meteoroids, the ring system, charged particles, atmospheric composition and structure, and clouds and atmospheric motions. The environmental factors which have pertinence to spacecraft design criteria are also discussed.

  4. Outer planet satellites

    SciTech Connect

    Schenk, P.M. )

    1991-01-01

    Recent findings on the outer-planet satellites are presented, with special consideration given to data on the rheologic properties of ice on icy satellites, the satellite surfaces and exogenic processes, cratering on dead cratered satellites, volcanism, and the interiors of outer-planet satellites. Particular attention is given to the state of Titan's surface and the properties of Triton, Pluto, and Charon. 210 refs.

  5. Atmospheres of Jovian Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chanover, Nancy

    The giant planets of the solar system have been studied for centuries using a wide range of remote sensing and in situ techniques. An understanding of the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune has dramatically improved since the dawn of spacecraft exploration of the outer solar system in the 1970s. Cloud decks that were predicted to exist from thermochemical equilibrium arguments have been observationally confirmed, although the exact vertical distribution of condensible species in these atmospheres remains an active area of study. All four of the giant planets have fast zonal (east-west) winds with prograde and retrograde jets, which dominate their atmospheric circulations. Each planet also contains long-lived cyclonic features or convective cloud features that appear and disappear on short timescales. These features suggest a link between the energy transport in the deep atmosphere and the visible cloud tops; the exact nature of this connection remains an outstanding question in giant planet atmosphere studies. The chemistry of the giant planet atmospheres is driven by both the convective processes that loft disequilibrium species from the deep atmosphere into the stratosphere and the interaction between stratospheric materials and ultraviolet sunlight. A unique opportunity to study these interactions was presented to planetary scientists in 1994, when the 22 fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted Jupiter. The future of giant planet atmospheric studies is promising. Several mission concepts that will answer fundamental questions regarding giant planet atmospheres are in various stages of development, and the James Webb Space Telescope will also contribute especially to our understanding of Uranus and Neptune. As an understanding of giant planet formation and evolution expands and deepens, these knowledge gains must be examined against the backdrop of the numerous exoplanet systems recently discovered, very few of which resemble our own.

  6. The Gemini Planet Imager

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macintosh, Bruce; Graham, J. R.; Palmer, D.; Doyon, R.; Larkin, J.; Oppenheimer, B.; Saddlemyer, L.; Veran, J.; Wallace, J. K.; Gemini Planet Imager Team

    2007-12-01

    Direct detection of extrasolar planets would be a major step in the study of other solar systems, sensitive to planets beyond the period cutoff of Doppler surveys. Furthermore, such planets can be spectrally characterized to measure temperature, gravity, and perhaps composition, shedding light on planet formation and evolution. Surveys of 50-100 young stars with current generation AO systems have excluded the presence of massive (2-10 MJ), young (? Myr) planets in wide (? AU) orbits, but to probe 5-20 AU scales around a large sample of target stars will require dedicated next-generation instruments. One such facility will be the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). It combines a 2000-actuator adaptive optics system, an apodized-pupil Lyot coronagraph, a precision infrared interferometer for real-time wavefront calibration at the nanometer level, and a near-infrared integral field spectrograph for detection and characterization of the target planets. GPI will be able to achieve Strehl ratios > 0.9 at 1.65 microns and to observe a broad sample of science targets with I band magnitudes less than 9. In addition to planet detection, GPI will also be capable of polarimetric imaging of circumstellar dust disks, studies of evolved stars, and high-Strehl imaging spectroscopy of bright targets - opening up a new field in the characterization of the environments of nearby stars. I will present an overview of the instrument design and its scientific capabilities. GPI is currently in the design phase, scheduled for deployment as a facility instrument on the Gemini South telescope in early 2011. Portions of this work performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. The Gemini Observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership.

  7. Transit of Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Doyle, Laurance R.

    1998-01-01

    During the past five years we have pursued the detection of extrasolar planets by the photometric transit method, i.e. the detection of a planet by watching for a drop in the brightness of the light as it crosses in front of a star. The planetary orbit must cross the line-of-sight and so most systems will not be lined up for such a transit to ever occur. However, we have looked at eclipsing binary systems which are already edge-on. Such systems must be very small in size as this makes the differential light change due to a transit much greater for a given planet size (the brightness difference will be proportional to the area of the transiting planet to the disc area of the star). Also, the planet forming region should be closer to the star as small stars are generally less luminous (that is, if the same thermal regime for planet formation applies as in the solar system). This led to studies of the habitable zone around other stars, as well. Finally, we discovered that our data could be used to detect giant planets without transits as we had been carefully timing the eclipses of the stars (using a GPS antenna for time) and this will drift by being offset by any giant planets orbiting around the system, as well. The best summary of our work may be to just summarize the 21 refereed papers produced during the time of this grant. This will be done is chronological order and in each section separately.

  8. Building a virtual planet

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Meadows, V. S.

    2002-01-01

    The virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) is a recently funded 5-yr project, which seeks toimprove our understanding of the range of plausible environments and the likely signatures for life on extrasolar terrestrial planets. To achieve these goals we are developing a suite of innovative modeling tools to simulate the environments and spectra of extrasolar planets. The core of the VPL IS a coupled radiative transfer/climate/chemistry model, which is augmented by interchangeable modules which characterize geological, exogenic, atmospheric escape, and life processes. The VPL is validated using data derived from terrestrial planets within our own solar system. The VPL will be used to explore the plausible range of atmospheric composittions and globally averaged spectra for extrasolar planets and for early Earth, and will improve our understanding of the effect of life on a planet's atmospheric spectrum and composition. The models will also be used to create a comprehensive spectral catalog to provide recommendations on the optimum wavelength range, spectral resolution, and instrument sensitivity required to characterize extrasolar terrestrial planets. Although developed by our team, the VPL is envisioned to be a comprehensive and flexible tool, which can be collaboratively used by the broader planetary science and astrobiology communities. This presentation will describe the project concept, the tasks involved, and will outline current progress to date. This work is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

  9. Terrestrial Planets: Volatiles Loss & Speed of Rotation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kochemasov, G. G.

    There is a close relation between orbiting frequencies of terrestrial planets and intensities of their outgassing [1]. ``Sweeping'' out volatiles of their bodies is provoked and facilitated by body shaking (wave oscillations) caused by movement of celestial bodies in elliptical orbits. Non-round orbits cause inertia-gravity warpings in all spheres of the bodies producing their tectonic granulation. The higher orbiting frequency -- the smaller tectonic granula -- more thorough interior degassing. Sizes of tectonic granulas inversely proportional to orbiting frequencies are: Mars π R/2, Earth π R/4, Venus π R/6, Mercury π R/16. The atmospheric masses increase from Mars through Earth to Venus as ˜ 0. 01 : 1 : 90 (radiogenic/primordial Ar is 3000 : 300 : 1, marking degassing intensity). Mercury in this sequence should have been even more outgassed (˜ 500 times comparative to Venus, having in mind different planetary masses [2]). But now it possesses only very weak atmosphere of noble gases, Na, K -- remnants of past significant outgassing now witnessed by a great amount of small deep structurally controlled pits (craters), lobate scarps caused by strong contraction and slow rotation. The slow rotation is due to loss of angular momentum to the atmosphere now wiped out by the solar wind. The same partitioning of angular momentum occurs at Venus: slowly rotating solid body is wrapped in rapidly rotating massive atmosphere (the solid surface exposes many features of contraction due to subsidence -- vast areas of wrinkle ridges). On the contrary to slow Mercury and Venus, Earth and Mars keep their moderate rotation corresponding to their moderate and mild degassing [3]. Still further from Sun weakly outgassed gas giants rotate very rapidly. Sun itself with slowly rotating photosphere and corresponding supergranula size π R/60 is a strongly outgassed object (some think that Sun lost upto 10% of its original mass). In line with the established regularity between

  10. Mercury Report-Children's exposure to elemental mercury

    MedlinePlus

    ... PDF - 781KB] En Español [PDF - 6.6MB] What did ATSDR find? For children, most elemental mercury exposures ... that exposed children to elemental mercury. The report did not include a review of mercury exposures from ...

  11. An Assessment of the Length and Variability of Mercury's Magnetotail

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Milan, S. E.; Slavin, J. A.

    2011-01-01

    We employ Mariner 10 measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field in the vicinity of Mercury to estimate the rate of magnetic reconnection between the interplanetary magnetic field and the Hermean magnetosphere. We derive a time-series of the open magnetic flux in Mercury's magnetosphere. from which we can deduce the length of the magnetotail The length of the magnetotail is shown to be highly variable. with open field lines stretching between 15R(sub H) and 8S0R(sub H) downstream of the planet (median 150R(sub H)). Scaling laws allow the tail length at perihelion to be deduced from the aphelion Mariner 10 observations.

  12. MESSENGER observations of Mercury's exosphere: detection of magnesium and distribution of constituents.

    PubMed

    McClintock, William E; Vervack, Ronald J; Bradley, E Todd; Killen, Rosemary M; Mouawad, Nelly; Sprague, Ann L; Burger, Matthew H; Solomon, Sean C; Izenberg, Noam R

    2009-05-01

    Mercury is surrounded by a tenuous exosphere that is supplied primarily by the planet's surface materials and is known to contain sodium, potassium, and calcium. Observations by the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer during MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby revealed the presence of neutral magnesium in the tail (anti-sunward) region of the exosphere, as well as differing spatial distributions of magnesium, calcium, and sodium atoms in both the tail and the nightside, near-planet exosphere. Analysis of these observations, supplemented by observations during the first Mercury flyby, as well as those by other MESSENGER instruments, suggests that the distinct spatial distributions arise from a combination of differences in source, transfer, and loss processes. PMID:19407195

  13. Mercury Calibration System

    SciTech Connect

    John Schabron; Eric Kalberer; Joseph Rovani; Mark Sanderson; Ryan Boysen; William Schuster

    2009-03-11

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Performance Specification 12 in the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) states that a mercury CEM must be calibrated with National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)-traceable standards. In early 2009, a NIST traceable standard for elemental mercury CEM calibration still does not exist. Despite the vacature of CAMR by a Federal appeals court in early 2008, a NIST traceable standard is still needed for whatever regulation is implemented in the future. Thermo Fisher is a major vendor providing complete integrated mercury continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) systems to the industry. WRI is participating with EPA, EPRI, NIST, and Thermo Fisher towards the development of the criteria that will be used in the traceability protocols to be issued by EPA. An initial draft of an elemental mercury calibration traceability protocol was distributed for comment to the participating research groups and vendors on a limited basis in early May 2007. In August 2007, EPA issued an interim traceability protocol for elemental mercury calibrators. Various working drafts of the new interim traceability protocols were distributed in late 2008 and early 2009 to participants in the Mercury Standards Working Committee project. The protocols include sections on qualification and certification. The qualification section describes in general terms tests that must be conducted by the calibrator vendors to demonstrate that their calibration equipment meets the minimum requirements to be established by EPA for use in CAMR monitoring. Variables to be examined include linearity, ambient temperature, back pressure, ambient pressure, line voltage, and effects of shipping. None of the procedures were described in detail in the draft interim documents; however they describe what EPA would like to eventually develop. WRI is providing the data and results to EPA for use in developing revised experimental procedures and realistic acceptance criteria based on

  14. The Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Richardson, L. J.; Seager, S.

    2007-01-01

    In this chapter we examine what can be learned about extrasolar planet atmospheres by concentrating on a class of planets that transit their parent stars. As discussed in the previous chapter, one way of detecting an extrasolar planet is by observing the drop in stellar intensity as the planet passes in front of the star. A transit represents a special case in which the geometry of the planetary system is such that the planet s orbit is nearly edge-on as seen from Earth. As we will explore, the transiting planets provide opportunities for detailed follow-up observations that allow physical characterization of extrasolar planets, probing their bulk compositions and atmospheres.

  15. Preliminary geologic terrain map of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Trask, N. J.; Guest, J. E.

    1975-01-01

    A geologic terrain map of Mercury has been constructed by use of the photogeologic methods employed for the moon and Mars. The oldest and most widespread unit, intercrater plains, forms nearly level to rolling surfaces on which are superposed numerous secondary impact craters. This unit may represent a very old surface that predates the last heavy bombardment of the inner planets. The effects of this bombardment are recorded in a second widespread unit, heavily cratered terrain, consisting of closely spaced craters and basins from 30 km to several hundred kilometers in diameter. Units formed by excavation of the 1300-km-diameter Caloris basin are widespread on one hemisphere of the planet. The development of the Caloris basin was followed relatively quickly by emplacement of widespread plains materials, most of which are probably volcanic.

  16. Mercury: The World Closest to the Sun.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Cordell, Bruce M.

    1984-01-01

    Discusses various topics related to the geology of Mercury including the origin of Mercury's magnetism, Mercury's motions, volcanism, scarps, and Mercury's violent birth and early life. Includes a table comparing Mercury's orbital and physical data to that of earth's. (JN)

  17. Extrasolar binary planets. I. Formation by tidal capture during planet-planet scattering

    SciTech Connect

    Ochiai, H.; Nagasawa, M.; Ida, S.

    2014-08-01

    We have investigated (1) the formation of gravitationally bounded pairs of gas-giant planets (which we call 'binary planets') from capturing each other through planet-planet dynamical tide during their close encounters and (2) the subsequent long-term orbital evolution due to planet-planet and planet-star quasi-static tides. For the initial evolution in phase 1, we carried out N-body simulations of the systems consisting of three Jupiter-mass planets taking into account the dynamical tide. The formation rate of the binary planets is as much as 10% of the systems that undergo orbital crossing, and this fraction is almost independent of the initial stellarcentric semimajor axes of the planets, while ejection and merging rates sensitively depend on the semimajor axes. As a result of circularization by the planet-planet dynamical tide, typical binary separations are a few times the sum of the physical radii of the planets. After the orbital circularization, the evolution of the binary system is governed by long-term quasi-static tide. We analytically calculated the quasi-static tidal evolution in phase 2. The binary planets first enter the spin-orbit synchronous state by the planet-planet tide. The planet-star tide removes angular momentum of the binary motion, eventually resulting in a collision between the planets. However, we found that the binary planets survive the tidal decay for the main-sequence lifetime of solar-type stars (∼10 Gyr), if the binary planets are beyond ∼0.3 AU from the central stars. These results suggest that the binary planets can be detected by transit observations at ≳ 0.3 AU.

  18. Studies of outer planet satellites, Mercury and Uranus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Mckinnon, William B.; Schenk, Paul M.

    1987-01-01

    Arguments were made, based on geometry, for both an impact and an internal origin for the ancient, partially preserved furrow system of Ganymede. It was concluded that furrows were not concentric, but could be impact related if multiringed structures on icy satellites are initially noncircular. The geometry of the Valhalla ring structure on Callisto was examined in order to assess the circularity of an unmodified ring system. The Ganymede furrow system was remapped to make use of improvements in coordinate control. The least-squares center of curvature for all furrows in the Marius and Galileao Regio is -20.7, and 179.2 degrees. Furrows in Marius and Galileo Regio are reasonably concentric, and are much more circular than previously estimated. The perceived present nonalignment of the assumed originally concentric furrows were used to argue for large-scale lateral motion of dark terrain blocks in Ganymede's crust, presumably in association with bright terrain formation., The overall alignment of furrows as well as the inherent scatter in centers of curvature from subregions of Galileo and Marius do not support this hypothesis.

  19. Process for low mercury coal

    DOEpatents

    Merriam, N.W.; Grimes, R.W.; Tweed, R.E.

    1995-04-04

    A process is described for producing low mercury coal during precombustion procedures by releasing mercury through discriminating mild heating that minimizes other burdensome constituents. Said mercury is recovered from the overhead gases by selective removal. 4 figures.

  20. Process for low mercury coal

    DOEpatents

    Merriam, Norman W.; Grimes, R. William; Tweed, Robert E.

    1995-01-01

    A process for producing low mercury coal during precombustion procedures by releasing mercury through discriminating mild heating that minimizes other burdensome constituents. Said mercury is recovered from the overhead gases by selective removal.

  1. Gravity, Topography, and Magnetic Field of Mercury from Messenger

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Neumann, Gregory A.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zuber, Maria T.; Phillips, Roger J.; Barnouin, Olivier; Ernst, Carolyn; Goosens, Sander; Hauck, Steven A., II; Head, James W., III; Johnson, Catherine L.; Lemoine, Frank G.; Margot, Jean-Luc; McNutt, Ralph; Mazarico, Erwan M.; Oberst, Jurgen; Peale, Stanley J.; Perry, Mark; Purucker, Michael E.; Rowlands, David D.; Torrence, Mark H.

    2012-01-01

    On 18 March 2011, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft was inserted into a 12-hour, near-polar orbit around Mercury, with an initial periapsis altitude of 200 km, initial periapse latitude of 60 deg N, and apoapsis at approximately 15,200 km altitude in the southern hemisphere. This orbit has permitted the mapping of regional gravitational structure in the northern hemisphere, and laser altimetry from the MESSENGER spacecraft has yielded a geodetically controlled elevation model for the same hemisphere. The shape of a planet combined with gravity provides fundamental information regarding its internal structure and geologic and thermal evolution. Elevations in the northern hemisphere exhibit a unimodal distribution with a dynamic range of 9.63 km, less than that of the Moon (19.9 km), but consistent with Mercury's higher surface gravitational acceleration. After one Earth-year in orbit, refined models of gravity and topography have revealed several large positive gravity anomalies that coincide with major impact basins. These candidate mascons have anomalies that exceed 100 mGal and indicate substantial crustal thinning and superisostatic uplift of underlying mantle. An additional uncompensated 1000-km-diameter gravity and topographic high at 68 deg N, 33 deg E lies within Mercury's northern volcanic plains. Mercury's northern hemisphere crust is generally thicker at low latitudes than in the polar region. The low-degree gravity field, combined with planetary spin parameters, yields the moment of inertia C/MR2 = 0.353 +/- 0.017, where M=3.30 x 10(exp 23) kg and R=2440 km are Mercury's mass and radius, and a ratio of the moment of inertia of Mercury's solid outer shell to that of the planet of Cm/C = 0.452 +/- 0.035. One proposed model for Mercury's radial density distribution consistent with these results includes silicate crust and mantle layers overlying a dense solid (possibly Fe-S) layer, a liquid Fe

  2. Dynamical Simulations of Terrestrial Planet Formation During Giant Planet Migration

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mandell, A. M.; Raymond, S. N.; Sigurdsson, S.

    2005-12-01

    We present preliminary results of dynamical simulations of young planetary systems undergoing migration of a Jovian-type planet through the terrestrial region. We find that a significant fraction (10-40%) of the initial planetary embryos remain after giant planet migration, and subsequent evolution of the system results in the formation of terrestrial planets in various configurations, often including a planet in the Habitable Zone. In simulations with gas drag, 3-6 Earth mass planets are formed interior to the migrating Jovian planet, swept inward through moving resonances, and eccentricities are damped for all planets. Systematic variations are seen between simulations with and without gas drag. The presence of a second, non-migrating giant planet reduces the water content and mass of the planets formed throughout the system. This research was supported in part by the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center and the Goddard Center for Astrobiology.

  3. Protostars and Planets VI

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beuther, Henrik; Klessen, Ralf S.; Dullemond, Cornelis P.; Henning, Thomas

    The Protostars and Planets book and conference series has been a long-standing tradition that commenced with the first meeting led by Tom Gehrels and held in Tucson, Arizona, in 1978. The goal then, as it still is today, was to bridge the gap between the fields of star and planet formation as well as the investigation of planetary systems and planets. As Tom Gehrels stated in the preface to the first Protostars and Planets book, "Cross-fertilization of information and understanding is bound to occur when investigators who are familiar with the stellar and interstellar phases meet with those who study the early phases of solar system formation." The central goal remained the same for the subsequent editions of the books and conferences Protostars and Planets II in 1984, Protostars and Planets III in 1990, Protostars and Planets IV in 1998, and Protostars and Planets V in 2005, but has now been greatly expanded by the flood of new discoveries in the field of exoplanet science. The original concept of the Protostars and Planets series also formed the basis for the sixth conference in the series, which took place on July 15-20, 2013. It was held for the first time outside of the United States in the bustling university town of Heidelberg, Germany. The meeting attracted 852 participants from 32 countries, and was centered around 38 review talks and more than 600 posters. The review talks were expanded to form the 38 chapters of this book, written by a total of 250 contributing authors. This Protostars and Planets volume reflects the current state-of-the-art in star and planet formation, and tightly connects the fields with each other. It is structured into four sections covering key aspects of molecular cloud and star formation, disk formation and evolution, planetary systems, and astrophysical conditions for life. All poster presentations from the conference can be found at www.ppvi.org. In the eight years that have passed since the fifth conference and book in the

  4. Detection of the Magnetospheric Emissions from Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lazio, J.

    2014-12-01

    Planetary-scale magnetic fields are a window to a planet's interior and provide shielding of the planet's atmosphere. The Earth, Mercury, Ganymede, and the giant planets of the solar system all contain internal dynamo currents that generate planetary-scale magnetic fields. These internal dynamo currents arise from differential rotation, convection, compositional dynamics, or a combination of these. If coupled to an energy source, such as the incident kinetic or magnetic energy from the solar wind, a planet's magnetic field can produce electron cyclotron masers in its magnetic polar regions. The most well known example of this process is the Jovian decametric emission, but all of the giant planets and the Earth contain similar electron cyclotron masers within their magnetospheres. Extrapolated to extrasolar planets, the remote detection of the magnetic field of an extrasolar planet would provide a means of obtaining constraints on the thermal state, composition, and dynamics of its interior as well as improved understanding of the basic planetary dynamo process. The magnetospheric emissions from solar system planets and the discovery of extrasolar planets have motivated both theoretical and observational work on magnetospheric emissions from extrasolar planets. Stimulated by these advances, the W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies hosted a workshop entitled "Planetary Magnetic Fields: Planetary Interiors and Habitability." I summarize the current observational status of searches for magnetospheric emissions from extrasolar planets, based on observations from a number of ground-based radio telescopes, and future prospects for ground-based studies. Using the solar system planetary magnetic fields as a guide, future space-based missions will be required to study planets with magnetic field strengths lower than that of Jupiter. I summarize mission concepts identified in the KISS workshop, with a focus on the detection of planetary electron cyclotron maser emission. The

  5. Optimal Planet Properties For Plate Tectonics Through Time And Space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenkovic, Vlada; Seager, Sara

    2014-11-01

    Both the time and the location of planet formation shape a rocky planet’s mass, interior composition and structure, and hence also its tectonic mode. The tectonic mode of a planet can vary between two end-member solutions, plate tectonics and stagnant lid convection, and does significantly impact outgassing and biogeochemical cycles on any rocky planet. Therefore, estimating how the tectonic mode of a planet is affected by a planet’s age, mass, structure, and composition is a major step towards understanding habitability of exoplanets and geophysical false positives to biosignature gases. We connect geophysics to astronomy in order to understand how we could identify and where we could find planet candidates with optimal conditions for plate tectonics. To achieve this goal, we use thermal evolution models, account for the current wide range of uncertainties, and simulate various alien planets. Based on our best model estimates, we predict that the ideal targets for plate tectonics are oxygen-dominated (C/O<1) (solar system like) rocky planets of ~1 Earth mass with surface oceans, large metallic cores super-Mercury, rocky body densities of ~7000kgm-3), and with small mantle concentrations of iron 0%), water 0%), and radiogenic isotopes 10 times less than Earth). Super-Earths, undifferentiated planets, and especially hypothetical carbon planets, speculated to consist of SiC and C, are not optimal for the occurrence of plate tectonics. These results put Earth close to an ideal compositional and structural configuration for plate tectonics. Moreover, the results indicate that plate tectonics might have never existed on planets formed soon after the Big Bang—but instead is favored on planets formed from an evolved interstellar medium enriched in iron but depleted in silicon, oxygen, and especially in Th, K, and U relative to iron. This possibly sets a belated Galactic start for complex Earth-like surface life if plate tectonics significantly impacts the build up

  6. Substorms on Mercury?

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Siscoe, G. L.; Ness, N. F.; Yeates, C. M.

    1974-01-01

    Qualitative similarities between some of the variations in the Mercury encounter data and variations in the corresponding regions of the earth's magnetosphere during substorms are pointed out. The Mariner 10 data on Mercury show a strong interaction between the solar wind and the plant similar to a scaled down version of that for the earth's magnetosphere. Some of the features observed in the night side Mercury magnetosphere suggest time dependent processes occurring there.

  7. Peru Mercury Inventory 2006

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brooks, William E.; Sandoval, Esteban; Yepez, Miguel A.; Howard, Howell

    2007-01-01

    In 2004, a specific need for data on mercury use in South America was indicated by the United Nations Environmental Programme-Chemicals (UNEP-Chemicals) at a workshop on regional mercury pollution that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mercury has long been mined and used in South America for artisanal gold mining and imported for chlor-alkali production, dental amalgam, and other uses. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides information on domestic and international mercury production, trade, prices, sources, and recycling in its annual Minerals Yearbook mercury chapter. Therefore, in response to UNEP-Chemicals, the USGS, in collaboration with the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy, Lima, has herein compiled data on Peru's exports, imports, and byproduct production of mercury. Peru was selected for this inventory because it has a 2000-year history of mercury production and use, and continues today as an important source of mercury for the global market, as a byproduct from its gold mines. Peru is a regional distributor of imported mercury and user of mercury for artisanal gold mining and chlor-alkali production. Peruvian customs data showed that 22 metric tons (t) of byproduct mercury was exported to the United States in 2006. Transshipped mercury was exported to Brazil (1 t), Colombia (1 t), and Guyana (1 t). Mercury was imported from the United States (54 t), Spain (19 t), and Kyrgyzstan (8 t) in 2006 and was used for artisanal gold mining, chlor-alkali production, dental amalgam, or transshipment to other countries in the region. Site visits and interviews provided information on the use and disposition of mercury for artisanal gold mining and other uses. Peru also imports mercury-containing batteries, electronics and computers, fluorescent lamps, and thermometers. In 2006, Peru imported approximately 1,900 t of a wide variety of fluorescent lamps; however, the mercury contained in these lamps, a minimum of approximately 76 kilograms (kg), and in

  8. Chronology of heavily cratered terrains on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Marchi, S.; Chapman, C. R.

    2012-12-01

    Imaging of Mercury by Mariner 10 revealed a planet with more extensive plains units than on the Moon. Even in heavily cratered terrain, there is a lack of craters <40 km in diameter, relative to the size-frequency distribution on the Moon, a result attributed to resurfacing by the formation of widespread "intercrater plains". MESSENGER imaging has revealed that the more recent smooth plains are generally the result of widespread volcanism (rather than fluidized impact basin ejecta) and that at least localized volcanism may have persisted until comparatively recent times, despite the crustal contraction evidenced by the numerous lobate scarps. The older intercrater plains may also be volcanic. Here we address the ages of the oldest, most heavily cratered regions on Mercury that may predate most of the visible intercrater plains. We scale to Mercury the lunar crater chronology recently developed by Morbidelli et al., [1] in order to interpret new crater counts on these terrains. We find that these craters are probably not saturated but may have been in equilibrium with a rapid resurfacing process, presumably volcanism that formed the earliest recognized intercrater plains. The crater retention age for this terrain, which contains the oldest large craters on Mercury, is surprisingly young, perhaps hundreds of millions of years younger than the heavily cratered pre-Nectarian terrains on the Moon [2]. These results are important for understanding the early geological and geophysical evolution of Mercury. References: [1] Morbidelli A., Marchi S., Bottke W.F., and Kring D.A. 2012. A sawtooth timeline for the first billion years of the lunar bombardment. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, in press. [2] Marchi S., Bottke W.F., Kring D.A., and Morbidelli A. 2012. The onset of the lunar cataclysm as recorded in its ancient crater populations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 325, 27-38.

  9. The First Global Geological Map of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prockter, L. M.; Head, J. W., III; Byrne, P. K.; Denevi, B. W.; Kinczyk, M. J.; Fassett, C.; Whitten, J. L.; Thomas, R.; Ernst, C. M.

    2015-12-01

    Geological maps are tools with which to understand the distribution and age relationships of surface geological units and structural features on planetary surfaces. Regional and limited global mapping of Mercury has already yielded valuable science results, elucidating the history and distribution of several types of units and features, such as regional plains, tectonic structures, and pyroclastic deposits. To date, however, no global geological map of Mercury exists, and there is currently no commonly accepted set of standardized unit descriptions and nomenclature. With MESSENGER monochrome image data, we are undertaking the global geological mapping of Mercury at the 1:15M scale applying standard U.S. Geological Survey mapping guidelines. This map will enable the development of the first global stratigraphic column of Mercury, will facilitate comparisons among surface units distributed discontinuously across the planet, and will provide guidelines for mappers so that future mapping efforts will be consistent and broadly interpretable by the scientific community. To date we have incorporated three major datasets into the global geological map: smooth plains units, tectonic structures, and impact craters and basins >20 km in diameter. We have classified most of these craters by relative age on the basis of the state of preservation of morphological features and standard classification schemes first applied to Mercury by the Mariner 10 imaging team. Additional datasets to be incorporated include intercrater plains units and crater ejecta deposits. In some regions MESSENGER color data is used to supplement the monochrome data, to help elucidate different plains units. The final map will be published online, together with a peer-reviewed publication. Further, a digital version of the map, containing individual map layers, will be made publicly available for use within geographic information systems (GISs).

  10. Magnetic Mystery Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fillingim, M.; Brain, D.; Peticolas, L.; Yan, D.; Fricke, K.; Thrall, L.

    2014-07-01

    The magnetic fields of the large terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are all vastly different from each other. These differences can tell us a lot about the interior structure, interior history, and they can even give us clues to the atmospheric history of these planets. This paper highlights a classroom presentation and accompanying activity that focuses on the differences between the magnetic fields of Venus, Earth, and Mars, what these differences mean, and how we measure these differences. During the activity, students make magnetic field measurements and draw magnetic field lines of “mystery planets” using orbiting “spacecraft” (small compasses). Based on their observations, the students then determine whether they are orbiting Venus-like, Earth-like, or Mars-like planets. This activity is targeted to middle and high school audiences. However, we have also used a scaled-down version with elementary school audiences.

  11. Outer Planet Flagship Mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cutts, James; Niebur, C.; Dudzinski, L.; Coradini, M.; Lebreton, J.

    2008-09-01

    Studies for Outer Planet Missions have been ongoing for many years, but in 2007 NASA commissioned four specific studies to be considered for further examination; the Europa Explorer, Titan Explorer, Enceladus Mission and Jupiter Science Orbiter. During the same time frame ESA invited Outer Planet proposals under the Cosmic Vision call. Two were submitted, TandEm and LaPlace, which focused on Titan/Enceladus and Jupiter System science respectively. In 2008, NASA selected two of the missions, Europa Explorer and Titan Explorer, and ESA selected the two outer planet proposals for further study. This poster describes the process by which NASA and ESA are collaborating on the current studies which are now named the Titan/Saturn (TSSM) and Europa/Jupiter Missions (EJSM). We provide an update on the background, organization and schedule for these two mission studies.

  12. Outer Planet Flagship Missions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Niebur, C.; Dudzinski, L.; Coradini, M.; Lebreton, J.; Cutts, J. A.

    2008-05-01

    Studies for Outer Planet Missions have been ongoing for many years, but in 2007 NASA commissioned four specific studies to be considered for further examination; the Europa Explorer, Titan Explorer, Enceladus Mission and Jupiter Science Orbiter. During the same time frame ESA invited Outer Planet proposals under the Cosmic Vision call. Two were submitted, TandEM and LaPlace, which focused on Titan/Enceladus and Jupiter System science respectively. In 2008, NASA selected two of the missions, Europa Explorer and Titan Explorer, and ESA selected the two outer planet proposals for further study. This poster describes the process by which NASA and ESA are collaborating on the current studies which are now named the Titan/Saturn and Europa/Jupiter Missions. We provide the background, organization and schedule that are presently envisaged for these two mission studies.

  13. Outer Planets Flagship Mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Niebur, C.; Dudzinski, L.; Coradini, M.; Lebreton, J. P.; Cutts, J. A.

    2008-09-01

    Studies for Outer Planet Missions have been ongoing for many years, but in 2007 NASA commissioned four specific studies to be considered for further examination; the Europa Explorer, Titan Explorer, Enceladus Mission and Jupiter Science Orbiter. During the same time frame ESA invited Outer Planet proposals under the Cosmic Vision call. Two were submitted, TandEm and LaPlace, which focused on Titan/Enceladus and Jupiter System science respectively. In 2008, NASA selected two of the missions, Europa Explorer and Titan Explorer, and ESA selected the two outer planet proposals for further study. This poster describes the process by which NASA and ESA are collaborating on the current studies which are now named the Titan/Saturn (TSSM) and Europa/Jupiter Missions (EJSM). We provide an update on the background, organization and schedule for these two mission studies.

  14. Recipes for planet formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, Michael R.

    2009-11-01

    Anyone who has ever used baking soda instead of baking powder when trying to make a cake knows a simple truth: ingredients matter. The same is true for planet formation. Planets are made from the materials that coalesce in a rotating disk around young stars - essentially the "leftovers" from when the stars themselves formed through the gravitational collapse of rotating clouds of gas and dust. The planet-making disk should therefore initially have the same gas-to-dust ratio as the interstellar medium: about 100 to 1, by mass. Similarly, it seems logical that the elemental composition of the disk should match that of the star, reflecting the initial conditions at that particular spot in the galaxy.

  15. Characterizing extrasolar planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brown, Timothy M.

    Transiting extrasolar planets provide the best current opportunities for characterizing the physical properties of extrasolar planets. In this review, I first describe the geometry of planetary transits, and methods for detecting and refining the observations of such transits. I derive the methods by which transit light curves and radial velocity data can be analyzed to yield estimates of the planetary radius, mass, and orbital parameters. I also show how visible-light and infrared spectroscopy can be valuable tools for understanding the composition, temperature, and dynamics of the atmospheres of transiting planets. Finally, I relate the outcome of a participatory lecture-hall exercise relating to one term in the Drake equation, namely the lifetime of technical civilizations.

  16. Commission 53: Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Boss, Alan; Lecavelier des Etangs, Alain; Mayor, Michel; Bodenheimer, Peter; Collier-Cameron, Andrew; Kokubo, Eiichiro; Mardling, Rosemary; Minniti, Dante; Queloz, Didier

    2012-04-01

    Commission 53 was created at the 2006 Prague General Assembly (GA) of the IAU, in recognition of the outburst of astronomical progress in the field of extrasolar planet discovery, characterization, and theoretical work that has occurred since the discovery of the first planet in orbit around a solar-type star in 1995. Commission 53 is the logical successor to the IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets (WGESP), which ended its six years of existence in August 2006. The founding President of Commission 53 was Michael Mayor, in honor of his seminal contributions to this new field of astronomy. The current President is Alan Boss, the former chair of the WGESP. The current members of the Commission 53 (C53) Organizing Committee (OC) began their service in August 2009 at the conclusion of the Rio de Janeiro IAU GA.

  17. The evolution of Mercury's crust: a global perspective from MESSENGER.

    PubMed

    Denevi, Brett W; Robinson, Mark S; Solomon, Sean C; Murchie, Scott L; Blewett, David T; Domingue, Deborah L; McCoy, Timothy J; Ernst, Carolyn M; Head, James W; Watters, Thomas R; Chabot, Nancy L

    2009-05-01

    Mapping the distribution and extent of major terrain types on a planet's surface helps to constrain the origin and evolution of its crust. Together, MESSENGER and Mariner 10 observations of Mercury now provide a near-global look at the planet, revealing lateral and vertical heterogeneities in the color and thus composition of Mercury's crust. Smooth plains cover approximately 40% of the surface, and evidence for the volcanic origin of large expanses of plains suggests that a substantial portion of the crust originated volcanically. A low-reflectance, relatively blue component affects at least 15% of the surface and is concentrated in crater and basin ejecta. Its spectral characteristics and likely origin at depth are consistent with its apparent excavation from a lower crust or upper mantle enriched in iron- and titanium-bearing oxides. PMID:19407196

  18. Mission to Planet Earth

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Tilford, Shelby G.; Asrar, Ghassem; Backlund, Peter W.

    1994-01-01

    Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) is NASA's concept for an international science program to produce the understanding needed to predict changes in the Earth's environment. NASA and its interagency and international partners will place satellites carrying advanced sensors in strategic Earth orbits to gather multidisciplinary data. A sophisticated data system will process and archive an unprecedented amount of information about the Earth and how it works as a system. Increased understanding of the Earth system is a basic human responsibility, a prerequisite to informed management of the planet's resources and to the preservation of the global environment.

  19. Mission to Planet Earth

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilson, Gregory S.; Backlund, Peter W.

    1992-01-01

    Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) is NASA's concept for an international science program to produce the understanding needed to predict changes in the earth's environment. NASA and its interagency and international partners will place satellites carrying advanced sensors in strategic earth orbits to gather multidisciplinary data. A sophisticated data system will process and archive an unprecedented amount of information about the earth and how it works as a system. Increased understanding of the earth system is a basic human responsibility, a prerequisite to informed management of the planet's resources and to the preservation of the global environment.

  20. Heat Pipe Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Moore, William B.; Simon, Justin I.; Webb, A. Alexander G.

    2014-01-01

    When volcanism dominates heat transport, a terrestrial body enters a heat-pipe mode, in which hot magma moves through the lithosphere in narrow channels. Even at high heat flow, a heat-pipe planet develops a thick, cold, downwards-advecting lithosphere dominated by (ultra-)mafic flows and contractional deformation at the surface. Heat-pipes are an important feature of terrestrial planets at high heat flow, as illustrated by Io. Evidence for their operation early in Earth's history suggests that all terrestrial bodies should experience an episode of heat-pipe cooling early in their histories.

  1. Location of Planet X

    SciTech Connect

    Harrington, R.S.

    1988-10-01

    Observed positions of Uranus and Neptune along with residuals in right ascension and declination are used to constrain the location of a postulated tenth planet. The residuals are converted into residuals in ecliptic longitude and latitude. The results are then combined into seasonal normal points, producing average geocentric residuals spaced slightly more than a year apart that are assumed to represent the equivalent heliocentric average residuals for the observed oppositions. Such a planet is found to most likely reside in the region of Scorpius, with considerably less likelihood that it is in Taurus. 8 references.

  2. Impact-driven supply of sodium and potassium to the atmosphere of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Morgan, T. H.; Zook, H. A.; Potter, A. E.

    1988-01-01

    The Mercury atmosphere is supplied with sodium atoms from both impacting meteoroids and the impacted regolith; the production of vaporized sodium due to such impact varies with the instantaneous distance of Mercury from the sun, in a way that differs from the distance-dependence of those source-and-sink processes driven by solar radiation. Such impact-driven vaporization will yield the Na/K ratio noted in the Mercury atmosphere only if both the meteoroids and the regolith of the planet are deficient in K relative to other solar system objects sampled, other than comets.

  3. Evidence for a basalt-free surface on Mercury and implications for internal heat.

    PubMed

    Jeanloz, R; Mitchell, D L; Sprague, A L; de Pater, I

    1995-06-01

    Microwave and mid-infrared observations reveal that Mercury's surface contains less FeO + TiO2 and at least as much feldspar as the lunar highlands. The results are compatible with the high albedo (brightness) of Mercury's surface at visible wavelengths in suggesting a rock and soil composition that is devoid of basalt, the primary differentiate of terrestrial mantles. The occurrence of a basalt-free, highly differentiated crust is in accord with recent models of the planet's thermal evolution and suggests that Mercury has retained a hot interior as a result of a combination of inefficient mantle convection and minimal volcanic heat loss. PMID:7770770

  4. Modeling Mercury in Proteins.

    PubMed

    Parks, J M; Smith, J C

    2016-01-01

    Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element that is released into the biosphere both by natural processes and anthropogenic activities. Although its reduced, elemental form Hg(0) is relatively nontoxic, other forms such as Hg(2+) and, in particular, its methylated form, methylmercury, are toxic, with deleterious effects on both ecosystems and humans. Microorganisms play important roles in the transformation of mercury in the environment. Inorganic Hg(2+) can be methylated by certain bacteria and archaea to form methylmercury. Conversely, bacteria also demethylate methylmercury and reduce Hg(2+) to relatively inert Hg(0). Transformations and toxicity occur as a result of mercury interacting with various proteins. Clearly, then, understanding the toxic effects of mercury and its cycling in the environment requires characterization of these interactions. Computational approaches are ideally suited to studies of mercury in proteins because they can provide a detailed molecular picture and circumvent issues associated with toxicity. Here, we describe computational methods for investigating and characterizing how mercury binds to proteins, how inter- and intraprotein transfer of mercury is orchestrated in biological systems, and how chemical reactions in proteins transform the metal. We describe quantum chemical analyses of aqueous Hg(II), which reveal critical factors that determine ligand-binding propensities. We then provide a perspective on how we used chemical reasoning to discover how microorganisms methylate mercury. We also highlight our combined computational and experimental studies of the proteins and enzymes of the mer operon, a suite of genes that confer mercury resistance in many bacteria. Lastly, we place work on mercury in proteins in the context of what is needed for a comprehensive multiscale model of environmental mercury cycling. PMID:27497164

  5. Ion Transport in Mercury's Magnetosphere during the MESSENGER Flyby

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schriver, David; Travnicek, Pavel; Paral, Jan; Slavin, James A.; Sarantos, Menelaos; Anderson, Brian J.; Korth, Haje; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.; Baker, Daniel N.; Killen, Rosemary M.

    2008-09-01

    Abstract Heavy ions including sodium (Na+) are known to populate Mercury's magnetosphere and were observed in situ during the first MESSENGER flyby on January 14, 2008 [1]. A study has been undertaken to examine the transport, distribution, and energization of ions during solar wind conditions corresponding approximately to those that occurred during the MESSENGER flyby. Three-dimensional global hybrid simulations of Mercury's magnetosphere, which provide a realistic self-consistent electric and magnetic field configuration at the time of the flyby [2], are used to trace heavy-ion particle trajectories throughout the system. Because electrons are included only as a massless fluid in the hybrid simulations, electron transport can be examined as well using this technique. To examine solar-wind sputtering as a source for ion ejection from the planet, heavy ions are launched outward from regions near the planet where hybrid simulations show strong particle precipitation, and their trajectories are followed until they either hit the planet or are picked up by the solar wind and lost downstream. The heavy ions can be transported throughout the magnetosphere of Mercury and become accelerated by non-adiabatic processes in the magnetotail current sheet, as well as near reconnection regions. Ions will also be launched from the magnetosheath and other regions to model planetary ion sources as a result of photon-stimulated desorption from the dayside surface of Mercury. The simulated heavy-ion distribution and the energy profile of such ions in Mercury's magnetosphere provide a basis for comparison with MESSENGER flyby data. References [1] Zurbuchen T. H. et al. (2008) Science, in press. [2] Travnicek P. et al. (2007), Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L05104, doi:10.1029/2006GL028518.

  6. Expected Geochemical and Mineralogical Properties of Meteorites from Mercury: Inferences from Messenger Data

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McCubbin, F. M.; McCoy, T. J.

    2016-01-01

    Meteorites from the Moon, Mars, and many types of asteroid bodies have been identified among our global inventory of meteorites, however samples of Mercury and Venus have not been identified. The absence of mercurian and venusian meteorites could be attributed to an inability to recognize them in our collections due to a paucity of geochemical information for Venus and Mercury. In the case of mercurian meteorites, this possibility is further supported by dynamical calculations that suggest mercurian meteorites should be present on Earth at a factor of 2-3 less than meteorites from Mars [1]. In the present study, we focus on the putative mineralogy of mercurian meteorites using data obtained from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, which has provided us with our first quantitative constraints on the geochemistry of planet Mercury. We have used the MESSENGER data to compile a list of mineralogical and geochemical characteristics that a meteorite from Mercury is likely to exhibit.

  7. Areas of permanent shadow in Mercury's south polar region ascertained by MESSENGER orbital imaging

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabot, Nancy L.; Ernst, Carolyn M.; Denevi, Brett W.; Harmon, John K.; Murchie, Scott L.; Blewett, David T.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zhong, Ellen D.

    2012-05-01

    Radar-bright features near Mercury's poles have been postulated to be deposits of water ice trapped in cold, permanently shadowed interiors of impact craters. From its orbit about Mercury, MESSENGER repeatedly imaged the planet's south polar region over one Mercury solar day, providing a complete view of the terrain near the south pole and enabling the identification of areas of permanent shadow larger in horizontal extent than approximately 4 km. In Mercury's south polar region, all radar-bright features correspond to areas of permanent shadow. Application of previous thermal models suggests that the radar-bright deposits in Mercury's south polar cold traps are in locations consistent with a composition dominated by water ice provided that some manner of insulation, such as a thin layer of regolith, covers many of the deposits.

  8. Planet Formation and the Characteristics of Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.; DeVincenzi, Donald L. (Technical Monitor)

    2000-01-01

    An overview of current theories of planetary growth, emphasizing the formation of extrasolar planets, is presented. Models of planet formation are based upon observations of the Solar System, extrasolar planets, and young stars and their environments. Terrestrial planets are believed to grow via pairwise accretion until the spacing of planetary orbits becomes large enough that the configuration is stable for the age of the system. Giant planets begin their growth like terrestrial planets, but if they become massive enough before the protoplanetary disk dissipates, then they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas. These models predict that rocky planets should form in orbit about most single stars. It is uncertain whether or not gas giant planet formation is common, because most protoplanetary disks may dissipate before solid planetary cores can grow large enough to gravitationally trap substantial quantities of gas. A potential hazard to planetary systems is radial decay of planetary orbits resulting from interactions with material within the disk. Planets more massive than Earth have the potential to decay the fastest, and may be able to sweep up smaller planets in their path. The implications of the giant planets found in recent radial velocity searches for the abundances of habitable planets are discussed.

  9. Mercury's Atmosphere and Magnetosphere: MESSENGER Third Flyby Observations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.; Anderson, Brian J.; Baker, Daniel N.; Benna, Mehdi; Johnson, Catherine L.; Gloeckler, George; Killen, Rosemary M.; Krimigis, Stamatios M.; McClintock, William; McNutt, Ralph L., Jr.; Schriver, David; Solomon, Sean C.; Sprague, Ann L.; Vevack, Ronald J., Jr.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.

    2009-01-01

    MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury en route to orbit insertion about the innermost planet took place on 29 September 2009. The earlier 14 January and 6 October 2008 encounters revealed that Mercury's magnetic field is highly dipolar and stable over the 35 years since its discovery by Mariner 10; that a structured, temporally variable exosphere extends to great altitudes on the dayside and forms a long tail in the anti-sunward direction; a cloud of planetary ions encompasses the magnetosphere from the dayside bow shock to the downstream magnetosheath and magnetotail; and that the magnetosphere undergoes extremely intense magnetic reconnect ion in response to variations in the interplanetary magnetic field. Here we report on new results derived from observations from MESSENGER's Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS), Magnetometer (MAG), and Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) taken during the third flyby.

  10. Mariner Venus/Mercury 1973 solar radiation force and torques

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Georgevic, R. M.

    1974-01-01

    The need for an improvement of the mathematical model of the solar radiation force and torques for the Mariner Venus/Mercury spacecraft arises from the fact that this spacecraft will be steering toward the inner planets (Venus and Mercury), where, due to the proximity of the Sun, the effect of the solar radiation pressure is much larger than it was on the antecedent Mariner spacecraft, steering in the opposite direction. Therefore, although the model yielded excellent results in the case of the Mariner 9 Mars Orbiter, additional effects of negligible magnitudes for the previous missions of the Mariner spacecraft should now be included in the model. This study examines all such effects and incorporates them into the already existing model, as well as using the improved model for calculation of the solar radiation force and torques acting on the Mariner Venus/Mercury spacecraft.

  11. Discovery of sodium in the atmosphere of mercury.

    PubMed

    Potter, A; Morgan, T

    1985-08-16

    The spectrum of Mercury at the Fraunhofer sodium D lines shows strong emission features that are attributed to resonant scattering of sunlight from sodium vapor in the atmosphere of the planet. The total column abundance of sodium was estimated to be 8.1 x 10(11) atoms per square centimeter, which corresponds to a surface density at the subsolar point of about 1.5 x 10(5) atoms per cubic centimeter. The most abundant atmospheric species found by the Mariner 10 mission to Mercury was helium, with a surface density of 4.5 x 10(3) atoms per cubic centimeter. It now appears that sodium vapor is a major constituent of Mercury's atmosphere. PMID:17739377

  12. Mercury in the environment

    SciTech Connect

    Idaho National Laboratory - Mike Abbott

    2008-08-06

    Abbott works for Idaho National Laboratory as an environmental scientist. Using state-of-thescienceequipment, he continuously samples the air, looking for mercury. In turn, he'll analyzethis long-term data and try to figure out the mercury's point of or

  13. Mercury and Pregnancy

    MedlinePlus

    ... made when mercury in the air gets into water. The mercury in the air comes from natural sources (such as volcanoes) and man-made sources (such as burning coal and other pollution). You can get methylmercury in your body by ...

  14. Mercury in the environment

    ScienceCinema

    Idaho National Laboratory - Mike Abbott

    2010-01-08

    Abbott works for Idaho National Laboratory as an environmental scientist. Using state-of-thescienceequipment, he continuously samples the air, looking for mercury. In turn, he'll analyzethis long-term data and try to figure out the mercury's point of or

  15. Blood Mercury Level

    EPA Science Inventory

    This indicator describes the presence of mercury in the blood of segments of the U.S. population from 1999 to 2008. Mercury can cause developmental and neurological problems, especially in children. This indicator shows how exposure to this environmental contaminant has change...

  16. MERCURY RESEARCH STRATEGY

    EPA Science Inventory

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Research and Development (ORD) is pleased to announce the availability of its Mercury Research Strategy. This strategy guides ORD's mercury research program and covers the FY2001 2005 time frame. ORD will use it to ...

  17. Mercury On Deck

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1963-01-01

    The crew of the U.S.S. Kearsarge spell out the words 'Mercury 9' on the ship's flight deck while on the way to the recovery area where astronaut Gordon Cooper is expected to splash down in his 'Faith 7' Mercury space capsule.

  18. Atmospheric Deposition of Mercury

    EPA Science Inventory

    With the advent of the industrial era, the amount of mercury entering the global environment increased dramatically. Releases of mercury in its elemental form from gold mines and chlor-alkali plants, as sulfides such as mercaptans and agricultural chemicals, and as volatile emiss...

  19. The Planet Formation Imager

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kraus, S.; Buscher, D. F.; Monnier, J. D.; PFI Science, the; Technical Working Group

    2014-04-01

    Among the most fascinating and hotly-debated areas in contemporary astrophysics are the means by which planetary systems are assembled from the large rotating disks of gas and dust which attend a stellar birth. Although important work is being done both in theory and observation, a full understanding of the physics of planet formation can only be achieved by opening observational windows able to directly witness the process in action. The key requirement is then to probe planet-forming systems at the natural spatial scales over which material is being assembled. By definition, this is the so-called Hill Sphere which delineates the region of influence of a gravitating body within its surrounding environment. The Planet Formation Imager project has crystallized around this challenging goal: to deliver resolved images of Hill-Sphere-sized structures within candidate planet-hosting disks in the nearest star-forming regions. In this contribution we outline the primary science case of PFI and discuss how PFI could significantly advance our understanding of the architecture and potential habitability of planetary systems. We present radiation-hydrodynamics simulations from which we derive preliminary specifications that guide the design of the facility. Finally, we give an overview about the interferometric and non-interferometric technologies that we are investigating in order to meet the specifications.

  20. Positions of minor planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gressmann, M.

    A continuation of Gressman's (1980) observations is given using the Schmidt-camera 34/40 cm, f = 76. Topocentric positions of several minor planets are presented, and reference stars are obtained from the AGK(3), and applied to the two-star method to avoid any major errors. Parallax constants are also given, along with coordinates for the epoch 1950.0.

  1. Planets and Pucks.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Brueningsen, Christopher; Krawiec, Wesley

    1993-01-01

    Presents a simple activity designed to allow students to experimentally verify Kepler's second law, sometimes called the law of equal areas. It states that areas swept out by a planet as it orbits the Sun are equal for equal time intervals. (PR)

  2. A Planet for Goldilocks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Batalha, N.

    2014-07-01

    The search for life beyond Earth has inspired Solar System exploration and SETI surveys. Today, the search for life also leads to exoplanet discovery and characterization. Launched in March 2009, NASA's Kepler Mission has discovered thousands of exoplanets with diverse properties. Though each new world is interesting in its own right, Kepler aims to understand the population as a whole. Its primary objective is to determine the frequency of exoplanets of different sizes and orbital periods. Of special interest are the Earth-size planets in the “Goldilocks” (or habitable) Zone where the flux of incoming starlight is conducive to the existence of surface liquid water. Once Kepler establishes the prevalence of such planets in the Solar neighborhood, future missions can be designed to find not just a planet in the Goldilocks Zone but a planet for Goldilocks—a truly habitable environment for life as we know it. Kepler discoveries and progress will be described as well as the resources available to bring Kepler science to the public and into the classroom. The possibility of finding evidence of life beyond Earth is working its way into the public consciousness and has the potential to inspire generations. Scientific literacy is a natural consequence of awakening the spirit of exploration and discovery that led Goldilocks into the forest and leads humans into space.

  3. The Artificial Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glover, D. R.

    An interim milestone for interstellar space travel is proposed: the artificial planet. Interstellar travel will require breakthroughs in the areas of propulsion systems, energy systems, construction of large space structures, protection from space & radiation effects, space agriculture, closed environmental & life support systems, and many other areas. Many difficult problems can be attacked independently of the propulsion and energy challenges through a project to establish an artificial planet in our solar system. Goals of the project would include construction of a large space structure, development of space agriculture, demonstration of closed environmental & life support systems over long time periods, selection of gravity level for long-term spacecraft, demonstration of a self-sufficient colony, and optimization of space colony habitat. The artificial planet would use solar energy as a power source. The orbital location will be selected to minimize effects of the Earth, yet be close enough for construction, supply, and rescue operations. The artificial planet would start out as a construction station and evolve over time to address progressive goals culminating in a self-sufficient space colony.

  4. Twist planet drive

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vranish, John M. (Inventor)

    1996-01-01

    A planetary gear system includes a sun gear coupled to an annular ring gear through a plurality of twist-planet gears, a speeder gear, and a ground structure having an internal ring gear. Each planet gear includes a solid gear having a first half portion in the form of a spur gear which includes vertical gear teeth and a second half portion in the form of a spur gear which includes helical gear teeth that are offset from the vertical gear teeth and which contact helical gear teeth on the speeder gear and helical gear teeth on the outer ring gear. One half of the twist planet gears are preloaded downward, while the other half are preloaded upwards, each one alternating with the other so that each one twists in a motion opposite to its neighbor when rotated until each planet gear seats against the sun gear, the outer ring gear, the speeder gear, and the inner ring gear. The resulting configuration is an improved stiff anti-backlash gear system.

  5. Take a Planet Walk

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Schuster, Dwight

    2008-01-01

    Physical models in the classroom "cannot be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied" (AAAS 1990). Therefore, by modifying a popular classroom activity called a "planet walk," teachers can explore upper elementary students' current understandings; create an…

  6. Making and Differentiating Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Taylor, G. J.

    2015-07-01

    The rocky planets formed by progressive aggregation of dust to make planetesimals which joined to make large objects called planetary embryos that finally accumulated into planets, one of which we live on. This chaotic process is complicated further by chemical changes with distance from the Sun, including differences in oxidation conditions and water concentration. Once the inner planets began to form, metallic iron sank to form cores, reacting with the rocky portions in the process. David C. Rubie (University of Bayreuth, Germany) and colleagues in Germany, France, and the United States put all this planetary action into an impressively thorough computer model of planet formation and differentiation. They show that the observed compositions of the Earth can be matched by simulations that include the Grand Tack (Jupiter and Saturn migrate inwards towards the Sun and then back out), and chemical gradients in the Solar System, with more reducing conditions near the Sun, more oxidizing farther from the Sun, and oxidizing and hydrated conditions even farther from the Sun. The study identifies other important variables, such as the extent to which metallic iron chemically equilibrated with the silicate making up the Earth's mantle, the pressure at which it happened, and the likelihood that Earth accreted heterogeneously.

  7. Finding Planets around other stars

    NASA Video Gallery

    Just as the Earth revolves around the sun, our closest star, other planets might orbit the stars you see in the night sky. Think of all the planets in the universe that may be just the right distan...

  8. NASA Reveals Most Unusual Planet

    NASA Video Gallery

    In exploring the universe, NASA has uncovered one planet more unusual than all others. This 30 second video shows you which planet that is, and explains that NASA science helps us better understand...

  9. BepiColombo the next step to explore Mercury - Status update and Science goals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benkhoff, Johannes; Fujimoto, Masaki; Zender, Joe

    2016-04-01

    NASA's MESSENGER mission has fundamentally changed our view of the innermost planet. Mercury is in many ways a very different planet from what we were expecting. Now BepiColombo has to follow up on answering the fundamental questions that MESSENGER raised and go beyond. BepiColombo is a joint project between ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The Mission consists of two orbiters, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The mission scenario foresees a launch of both spacecraft with an ARIANE V in late 2017/early 2018 and an arrival at Mercury in 2024. From their dedicated orbits the two spacecraft will be studying the planet and its environment. The MPO scientific payload comprises eleven instruments/instrument packages; the MMO scientific payload consists of five instruments/instrument packages. Together, the scientific payload of both spacecraft will perform measurements to find clues to the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star. The MPO on BepiColombo will focus on a global characterization of Mercury through the investigation of its interior, surface, exosphere and magnetosphere. In addition, it will be testing Einstein's theory of general relativity. The MMO provided by JAXA focuses on investigating the wave and particle environment of the planet from an eccentric orbit. Together, the scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide the detailed information necessary to understand the process of planetary formation and evolution in the hottest part of the proto-planetary nebula as well as the similarities and differences between the magnetospheres of Mercury and the Earth. All scientific instruments have been integrated into the spacecraft and both spacecraft are now under final acceptance testing.

  10. Insights into Mercury's Core Evolution from the Thermodynamic Properties of Fe-S-Si

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Edgington, A.; Vocadlo, L.; Stixrude, L. P.; Wood, I. G.; Lord, O. T.

    2015-12-01

    The structure, composition and evolution of Mercury, the innermost planet, are puzzling, as its high uncompressed density implies a body highly enriched in metallic iron, whilst the existence of Mercury's magnetic field and observations of its longitude librations [1] suggest at least a partially molten core. This study uses a combination of experimental and ab-initio computer simulation techniques to determine the properties of Fe-S-Si (relative atomic percentages, 80:10:10) throughout the conditions of the interior of the planet Mercury, and evaluates the implications of this material for the structure and evolution of the planet's core. Previous studies have considered the addition of sulphur to the pure iron system, as this can significantly depress the melting curve of iron, and so may possibly allow Mercury's core to remain molten to the present day [2]. However, important constraints placed by the MESSENGER spacecraft on Mercury's surface abundance of iron [3] suggest that the planet formed in highly reduced conditions, in which significant amounts of silicon could have also dissolved into the core [4]. First-principles molecular dynamics simulations of the thermodynamic properties of liquid Fe-S-Si, alongside laser-heated diamond-anvil-cell experiments to determine the melting behaviour of the same composition, reveal the slopes of the adiabatic gradient and melting curve respectively, which together may allow insight into the evolution of our solar system's smallest planet. [1] Margot, J. L. et al. (2007) Science, 316: 710-714[2] Schubert, G. et al. (1988) in 'Mercury' 429-460[3] Nittler, L. R. et al. (2011) Science, 333, 1847-1850[4] Malavergne, V. et al. (2010) Icarus, 206:199-209

  11. Compiling Mercury relief map using several data sources

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zakharova, M.

    2015-12-01

    There are several data of Mercury topography obtained as the result of processing materials collected by two spacecraft - the Mariner-10 and the MESSENGER during their Mercury flybys.The history of the visual mapping of Mercury begins at the recent times as the first significant observations were made during the latter half of the 20th century, whereas today we have no data with 100% coverage of the entire surface of the Mercury except the global mosaic composed of the images acquired by MESSENGER. The main objective of this work is to provide the first Mercury relief map using all the existing elevation data. The workflow included collecting, combining and processing the existing data and afterwards merging them correctly for one single map compiling. The preference was given to topography data while the global mosaic was used to fill the gaps where there was insufficient topography.The Mercury relief map has been created with the help of four different types of data: - global mosaic with 100% coverage of Mercury's surface created from Messenger orbital images (36% of the final map);- Digital Terrain Models obtained by the treating stereo images made during the Mariner 10's flybys (15% of the map) (Cook and Robinson, 2000);- Digital Terrain Models obtained from images acquired during the Messenger flybys (24% of the map) (F. Preusker et al., 2011);- the data sets produced by the MESSENGER Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) (25 % of the map).The final map is created in the Lambert azimuthal Equal area projection and has the scale 1:18 000 000. It represents two hemispheres - western and eastern which are separated by the zero meridian. It mainly shows the hypsometric features of the planet and craters with a diameter more than 200 kilometers.

  12. Experimental Constraints on the Chemical Differentiation of Mercurys Mantle

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Boujibar, A.; Righter, K.; Pando, K.; Danielson, L.

    2015-01-01

    Mercury is known as being the most reduced terrestrial planet with the highest core/mantle ratio. Results from MESSENGER spacecraft have shown that its surface is FeO-poor (2-4 wt%) and S-rich (up to 6-7 wt%), which confirms the reducing nature of its silicate mantle. In addition several features suggest important melting stages of the Mercurian mantle: widespread volcanic deposits on its surface, a high crustal thickness (approximately 10% of the planet's volume) and chemical compositions of its surface suggesting several stages of differentiation and remelting processes. Therefore it is likely that igneous processes like magma ocean crystallization and continuous melting have induced chemical and mineralogical heterogeneities in the Mercurian mantle. The extent and nature of compositional variations produced by partial melting remains poorly constrained for the particular compositions of Mercury (very reducing conditions, low FeO-contents and high sulfur-contents). Melting experiments with bulk Mercury-analogue compositions are scarce and with poorly con-trolled starting compositions. Therefore additional experimental data are needed to better understand the differentiation processes that lead to the observed chemical compositions of Mercury's surface.

  13. Getting rid of mercury

    SciTech Connect

    Reisch, M.S.

    2008-11-24

    Anticipating a US rule on mercury removal from coal flue gas, technology providers jockey for position. By 2013, if the federal rule imposing regulation of mercury emissions which have begun or are about to begin in 20 eastern states goes nationwide, mercury control will be big business. For the near term, utilities are adopting activated carbon to control mercury emissions. McIlvaine Co. projects the US market for activated carbon will jump from 10 million lb in 2010 to 350 million by 2013. Norit and Calgon Carbon are already increasing production of activated carbon (mainly from coal) and ADA Environmental Solutions (ADA-ES) is building a new plant. Albermarle is developing a process to treat activated carbon with bromine; Corning has developed a sulfur impregnated activated carbon filtration brick. New catalysts are being developed to improve the oxidation of mercury for removal from flue gas. 2 photos.

  14. Classifying Planets: Nature vs. Nurture

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beichman, Charles A.

    2009-05-01

    The idea of a planet was so simple when we learned about the solar system in elementary school. Now students and professional s alike are faced with confusing array of definitions --- from "Brown Dwarfs” to "Super Jupiters", from "Super Earths” to "Terrestrial Planets", and from "Planets” to "Small, Sort-of Round Things That Aren't Really Planets". I will discuss how planets might be defined by how they formed, where they are found, or by the life they might support.

  15. Understanding the Interior Evolution of Mercury from Its Tectonic History

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Byrne, P. K.; Klimczak, C.; Sengor, A. M. C.; Hauck, S. A., II; Solomon, S. C.

    2015-12-01

    The surface of Mercury provides compelling insight into the planet's interior. Excluding impact craters and basins, the most prominent landforms on Mercury are tectonic; these features are distributed globally and crosscut all major surface units. More than seven years of flyby and orbital observations by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft show that tectonism on Mercury is overwhelmingly shortening in nature; extensional structures occur only within volcanically flooded impact craters and basins, in part the result of thermal contraction of thick plains units. Shortening structures show no coherent, planet-wide pattern, although many have an approximately north-south orientation, and some form fold-and-thrust belts thousands of kilometers long. Even so, their widespread distribution points to a global source of stress, primarily from global contraction in response to secular interior cooling. Some of the largest such landforms are 2-3 km in relief and hundreds of kilometers long, their underlying thrust faults penetrating 30-40 km into the lithosphere. Shortening landforms as small as hundreds of meters in length have been identified during MESSENGER's low-altitude campaign; the crisp morphology of these features indicates that thrust faulting, and thus global contraction, continued until the geologically recent. Displacement-length scaling analysis shows that Mercury's shortening landforms have accommodated a reduction in planetary radius of up to 7 km since the end of the late heavy bombardment. Such a magnitude of contraction is more consistent with models of global contraction from interior cooling and partial core crystallization than pre-MESSENGER estimates of tectonic shortening. Notably, the emplacement of major volcanic plains deposits on Mercury ended globally by 3.6 Ga, consistent with the onset of a state of net horizontal lithospheric compression that served to inhibit the vertical ascent and

  16. Basin Formation and Cratering on Mercury Revealed by MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chapman, C. R.; Fassett, C.; Marchi, S.; Merline, W. J.; Ostrach, L. R.; Prockter, L. M.

    2015-12-01

    Mercury has been bombarded by asteroids and comets throughout its history. The resulting craters and basins are the dominant topographic features on the planet. Although visible basins contain some of the most interesting tectonic features, plains, and evidence of vertical stratigraphy, they fall far short of saturating the surface. Nevertheless, Mercury has a greater spatial density of peak-ring basins and protobasins than any other Solar System body, partly because these morphologies begin at smaller sizes than on most bodies. Cratering at approximately three times the cratering rate on the Moon, combined with likely plains-forming volcanism, prevents recognition of surface features older than 4.0 to 4.1 Ga. Severe losses of craters <50 km in diameter (<20 km in some places) are ascribed to extensive formation of intercrater plains. Estimates of the cratering chronology of Mercury suggest that most plains formation ended about 3.6 to 3.7 Ga, though activity has continued in a few small regions until much more recently (e.g., inside the Rachmaninoff basin). Mercury, compared with other terrestrial bodies, is struck by projectiles impacting at much higher velocities, which is probably responsible for the formation of abundant secondary craters that dominate the numbers of craters <10 km diameter on older plains surfaces. The history of high-velocity bombardment has resulted in the production of abundant impact melts and has churned and processed the regolith, and eroded older topography, more thoroughly than on other Solar System bodies. Although the possible role of Mercury-specific impactors ("vulcanoids") cannot be excluded, imaging searches by MESSENGER have revealed no remaining vulcanoids and no other evidence suggests that Mercury has been bombarded by anything other than the same populations of asteroids and comets that have impacted the Moon and other terrestrial planets from the end of the period of heavy bombardment 3.8 to 3.9 Ga to the present.

  17. MESSENGER Observations of Magnetic Reconnection in Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin. James A.

    2009-01-01

    During MESSENGER'S second flyby of Mercury on October 6,2008, very intense reconnection was observed between the planet's magnetic field and a steady southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The dawn magnetopause was threaded by a strong magnetic field normal to its surface, approx.14 nT, that implies a rate of reconnection approx.10 times the typical rate at Earth and a cross-magnetospheric electric potential drop of approx.30 kV. The highest magnetic field observed during this second flyby, approx.160 nT, was found at the core of a large dayside flux transfer event (FTE). This FTE is estimated to contain magnetic flux equal to approx.5% that of Mercury's magnetic tail or approximately one order of magnitude higher fraction of the tail flux than is typically found for FTEs at Earth. Plasmoid and traveling compression region (TCR) signatures were observed throughout MESSENGER'S traversal of Mercury's magnetotail with a repetition rate comparable to the Dungey cycle time of approx.2 min. The TCR signatures changed from south-north, indicating tailward motion, to north-south, indicating sunward motion, at a distance approx.2.6 RM (where RM is Mercury's radius) behind the terminator indicating that the near-Mercury magnetotail neutral line was crossed at that point. Overall, these new MESSENGER observations suggest that magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause is very intense relative to what is found at Earth and other planets, while reconnection in Mercury's tail is similar to that in other planetary magnetospheres, but with a very short Dungey cycle time.

  18. Getting Mercury out of Schools.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    1999

    This guide was prepared while working with many Massachusetts schools to remove items that contain mercury and to find suitable alternatives. It contains fact sheets on: mercury in science laboratories and classrooms, mercury in school buildings and maintenance areas, mercury in the medical office and in medical technology classrooms in vocational…

  19. MERCURY MULTI-YEAR PLAN

    EPA Science Inventory

    A 1997 EPA Mercury Study Report to Congress discussed the magnitude of mercury emissions in the United States, and concluded that a plausible link exists between human activities that release mercury from industrial and combustion sources in the United States and methyl mercury c...

  20. Darkening of Mercury's surface by cometary carbon

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Syal, Megan Bruck; Schultz, Peter H.; Riner, Miriam A.

    2015-05-01

    Mercury’s surface is darker than that of the Moon. Iron-bearing minerals and submicroscopic metallic iron produced by space weathering are the primary known darkening materials on airless bodies. Yet Mercury’s iron abundance at the surface is lower than the Moon’s; another material is therefore likely to be responsible for Mercury’s dark surface. Enhanced darkening by submicroscopic metallic iron particles under intense space weathering at Mercury’s surface is insufficient to reconcile the planet’s low reflectance with its low iron abundance. Here we show that the delivery of cometary carbon by micrometeorites provides a mechanism to darken Mercury’s surface without violating observational constraints on iron content. We calculate the micrometeorite flux at Mercury and numerically simulate the fraction of carbonaceous material retained by the planet following micrometeorite impacts. We estimate that 50 times as many carbon-rich micrometeorites per unit surface area are delivered to Mercury, compared with the Moon, resulting in approximately 3-6 wt% carbon at Mercury’s surface (in graphite, amorphous, or nanodiamond form). Spectroscopic analysis of products of hypervelocity impact experiments demonstrates that the incorporation of carbon effectively darkens and weakens spectral features, consistent with remote observations of Mercury. Carbon delivery by micrometeorites provides an explanation for Mercury’s globally low reflectance and may contribute to the darkening of planetary surfaces elsewhere.

  1. MESSENGER multispectral observations of Mercury (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Denevi, B. W.; Robinson, M. S.; Solomon, S. C.; Murchie, S. L.; Blewett, D. T.; Domingue, D. L.; McCoy, T. J.; Ernst, C. M.; Head, J. W.; Watters, T. R.; Chabot, N. L.

    2009-12-01

    MESSENGER’s first two flybys of Mercury provide new insights into Mercury’s dynamic past and reveal a planet rich in color and compositional diversity. Including images from Mariner 10, over 90% of Mercury has now been observed at resolutions >2 km/pixel, and 80% of the planet has been observed in the 11 colors of the Mercury Dual Imaging System’s wide-angle camera (WAC). The multispectral WAC images confirm the existence of color variations correlated to geologic terrains such as smooth plains deposits and crater and basin ejecta, as well as more diffuse variations that, in some cases, have not yet been linked to particular geologic features. Smooth plains, many of which have been interpreted to be of volcanic origin, cover nearly 40% of the mapped surface. What fraction of the smooth plains formed through volcanism, as opposed to originating during impact events (as impact melt or basin ejecta), is not yet known. Globally, smooth plains do not appear to have a single color signature but instead show a range of color and reflectance nearly as large as that observed on Mercury as a whole, and on par with the contrast variations observed among the lunar maria. This observation suggests that the smooth plains have a range of compositions. Reflectance spectra are consistent with the presence of low-FeO silicates, as well as a spectrally neutral opaque component in varying abundances. Intercrater plains are similar in color and reflectance to the intermediate- to low-reflectance smooth plains, perhaps indicating a similar composition and/or origin. Color, and likely compositional, end-members include pyroclastic deposits (relatively high in reflectance with a steeper spectral slope) and low-reflectance material (LRM, with a shallower spectral slope). Pyroclastic materials, which on other bodies can originate in the mantle, provide insight into the composition of the source regions. LRM is typically concentrated in crater and basin ejecta excavated from depths as

  2. Extrasolar Planets in the Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    George, Samuel J.

    2011-01-01

    The field of extrasolar planets is still, in comparison with other astrophysical topics, in its infancy. There have been about 300 or so extrasolar planets detected and their detection has been accomplished by various different techniques. Here we present a simple laboratory experiment to show how planets are detected using the transit technique.…

  3. Overview of EXCEED/Hisaki observations for solar planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yoshikawa, Ichiro

    2016-07-01

    The Hisaki satellite with the EUV spectrometer (Extreme Ultraviolet Spectroscope for Exospheric Dynamics: EXCEED) was launched in September 2013 by Epsilon rocket. Now it is orbiting around the Earth (954.05 km x 1156.87 km orbit, the period is 104 minutes) and has performed a broad and varied observation program for more than 2-year. With an effective area of more than 1cm2 and well-calibrated sensitivity in space, the EUV spectrometer produces spectral images (520-1480 A) of the atmospheres/magnetospheres of solar planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) from the earth-orbit. Continuous measurement for Io plasma torus and aurora of Jupiter was conducted with HST to witness the sporadic and sudden brightening events occurring on one or both regions. For Venus, Fourth Positive system of CO and some unknown emissions of the atmosphere were identified. Exospheres of Mercury, Saturn, and Mars were also observed. Summary of observations will be presented.

  4. Comparison of properties of upstream whistlers at different planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Orlowski, D. S.; Russell, C. T.

    1995-01-01

    Whistler mode waves have been recorded in the upstream region of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Saturn. They are elliptically polarized and observed typically at frequencies between 0.1 to 4 Hz. These intrinsically right handed waves can be left-handed polarized in the spaceframe as a result of strong negative Doppler shift. The waves propagate at an angle between 10 and 60 deg to the background magnetic field, with (Delta B)/B rarely exceeding 0.1. Comprehensive studies of these waves at Earth and Venus indicate that upstream whistlers are generated at the shock rather than locally in the foreshock. In this paper, we compare properties of upstream whistlers at all these planets. We also discuss the utilization of selected properties of these waves to evaluate the effective Alfvenic Mach number and the shock thickness at Mercury where solar wind measurements are not available.

  5. ALMOST ALL OF KEPLER'S MULTIPLE-PLANET CANDIDATES ARE PLANETS

    SciTech Connect

    Lissauer, Jack J.; Rowe, Jason F.; Bryson, Stephen T.; Howell, Steve B.; Jenkins, Jon M.; Kinemuchi, Karen; Koch, David G.; Marcy, Geoffrey W.; Adams, Elisabeth; Fressin, Francois; Geary, John; Holman, Matthew J.; Ragozzine, Darin; Buchhave, Lars A.; Ciardi, David R.; Fabrycky, Daniel C.; Ford, Eric B.; Morehead, Robert C.; Gilliland, Ronald L.; and others

    2012-05-10

    We present a statistical analysis that demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Kepler candidate multiple transiting systems (multis) indeed represent true, physically associated transiting planets. Binary stars provide the primary source of false positives among Kepler planet candidates, implying that false positives should be nearly randomly distributed among Kepler targets. In contrast, true transiting planets would appear clustered around a smaller number of Kepler targets if detectable planets tend to come in systems and/or if the orbital planes of planets encircling the same star are correlated. There are more than one hundred times as many Kepler planet candidates in multi-candidate systems as would be predicted from a random distribution of candidates, implying that the vast majority are true planets. Most of these multis are multiple-planet systems orbiting the Kepler target star, but there are likely cases where (1) the planetary system orbits a fainter star, and the planets are thus significantly larger than has been estimated, or (2) the planets orbit different stars within a binary/multiple star system. We use the low overall false-positive rate among Kepler multis, together with analysis of Kepler spacecraft and ground-based data, to validate the closely packed Kepler-33 planetary system, which orbits a star that has evolved somewhat off of the main sequence. Kepler-33 hosts five transiting planets, with periods ranging from 5.67 to 41 days.

  6. How Giant Planets Shape the Characteristics of Terrestrial Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barclay, Thomas; Quintana, Elisa V.

    2016-01-01

    The giant planets in the Solar System likely played a defining role in shaping the properties of the Earth and other terrestrial planets during their formation. Observations from the Kepler spacecraft indicate that terrestrial planets are highly abundant. However, there are hints that giant planets a few AU from their stars are not ubiquitous. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that many terrestrial planets lack a Jupiter-like companion. We use a recently developed, state-of-the-art N-body model that allows for collisional fragmentation to perform hundreds of numerical simulations of the final stages of terrestrial planet formation around a Sun-like star -- with and without giant outer planets. We quantify the effects that outer giant planet companions have on collisions and the planet accretion process. We focus on Earth-analogs that form in each system and explore how giant planets influence the relative frequency of giant impacts occurring at late times and the delivery of volitiles. This work has important implications for determining the frequency of habitable planets.

  7. A comparison of magnetic overshoots at the bow shocks of Mercury and Saturn

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Masters, A.; Slavin, J. A.; Dibraccio, G. A.; Sundberg, T.; Winslow, R. M.; Johnson, C. L.; Anderson, B. J.; Korth, H.

    2013-07-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft at Mercury and the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn provide us with orbiters around planets at more diverse heliocentric distances than ever before. The dramatically different solar wind conditions at these two planets should mean that Mercury's bow shock is considerably weaker (lower Mach numbers) than Saturn's bow shock. This is expected to produce different magnetic overshoot amplitudes at each bow shock, because the Relative Overshoot Amplitude (ROA) has been shown to increase with both fast magnetosonic Mach number and upstream plasma β. We qualitatively compare the parameter regimes of Mercury's and Saturn's bow shock by determining ROAs. We analyze 133 MESSENGER encounters with Mercury's bow shock and 90 Cassini encounters with Saturn's bow shock, all with a clear shock ramp. At five of the 133 Mercury bow shock encounters, there is no resolvable magnetic overshoot, whereas all Saturn bow shock encounters have a clear overshoot. We find that the ROA of Mercury's bow shock ranges from ~0 (no overshoot) to ~0.6, with a typical value of ~0.2. We find that the ROA of Saturn's bow shock ranges from ~0.2 to ~5, with a typical value of ~2. This clear ROA difference is consistent with the expected lower fast magnetosonic Mach number and lower upstream plasma β at Mercury's bow shock, and we suggest that it is very likely to be primarily caused by the different Mach numbers. This confirmed variation in bow shock parameter regime may produce a different solar wind-magnetosphere interaction at these two planets.

  8. Mercury in the ecosystem

    SciTech Connect

    Mitra, S.

    1986-01-01

    This treatise on the environmental dispersion of mercury emphasizes the importance of ''mercury-consciousness'' in the present-day world, where rapidly expanding metallurgical, chemical, and other industrial developments are causing widespread contamination of the atmosphere, soil, and water by this metal and its toxic organic derivatives. Concepts concerning the mechanism of mercury dispersion and methyl-mercury formation in the physico-biological ecosystem are discussed in detail and a substantial body of data on the degree and nature of the mercury contamination of various plants, fish, and land animals by industrial and urban effluents is presented. Various analytical methods for the estimation of mercury in inorganic and organic samples are presented. These serve as a ready guide to the selection of the correct method for analyzing environmental samples. This book is reference work in mercury-related studies. It is written to influence industrial policies of governments in their formulation of control measures to avoid the recurrence of human tragedies such as the well-known Minamata case in Japan, and the lesser known cases in Iraq, Pakistan, and Guatamala.

  9. Mercury Metadata Toolset

    Energy Science and Technology Software Center (ESTSC)

    2009-09-08

    Mercury is a federated metadata harvesting, search and retrieval tool based on both open source software and software developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was originally developed for NASA, and the Mercury development consortium now includes funding from NASA, USGS, and DOE. A major new version of Mercury (version 3.0) was developed during 2007 and released in early 2008. This Mercury 3.0 version provides orders of magnitude improvements in search speed, support for additionalmore » metadata formats, integration with Google Maps for spatial queries, facetted type search, support for RSS delivery of search results, and ready customization to meet the needs of the multiple projects which use Mercury. For the end users, Mercury provides a single portal to very quickly search for data and information contained in disparate data management systems. It collects metadata and key data from contributing project servers distributed around the world and builds a centralized index. The Mercury search interfaces then allow the users to perform simple, fielded, spatial, and temporal searches across these metadata sources. This centralized repository of metadata with distributed data sources provides extremely fast search results to the user, while allowing data providers to advertise the availability of their data and maintain complete control and ownership of that data.« less

  10. Mercury Metadata Toolset

    SciTech Connect

    2009-09-08

    Mercury is a federated metadata harvesting, search and retrieval tool based on both open source software and software developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was originally developed for NASA, and the Mercury development consortium now includes funding from NASA, USGS, and DOE. A major new version of Mercury (version 3.0) was developed during 2007 and released in early 2008. This Mercury 3.0 version provides orders of magnitude improvements in search speed, support for additional metadata formats, integration with Google Maps for spatial queries, facetted type search, support for RSS delivery of search results, and ready customization to meet the needs of the multiple projects which use Mercury. For the end users, Mercury provides a single portal to very quickly search for data and information contained in disparate data management systems. It collects metadata and key data from contributing project servers distributed around the world and builds a centralized index. The Mercury search interfaces then allow the users to perform simple, fielded, spatial, and temporal searches across these metadata sources. This centralized repository of metadata with distributed data sources provides extremely fast search results to the user, while allowing data providers to advertise the availability of their data and maintain complete control and ownership of that data.

  11. Inorganic: the other mercury.

    PubMed

    Risher, John F; De Rosa, Christopher T

    2007-11-01

    There is a broad array of mercury species to which humans may be exposed. While exposure to methylmercury through fish consumption is widely recognized, the public is less aware of the sources and potential toxicity of inorganic forms of mercury. Some oral and laboratory thermometers, barometers, small batteries, thermostats, gas pressure regulators, light switches, dental amalgam fillings, cosmetic products, medications, cultural/religious practices, and gold mining all represent potential sources of exposure to inorganic forms of mercury. The route of exposure, the extent of absorption, the pharmacokinetics, and the effects all vary with the specific form of mercury and the magnitude and duration of exposure. If exposure is suspected, a number of tissue analyses can be conducted to confirm exposure or to determine whether an exposure might reasonably be expected to be biologically significant. By contrast with determination of exposure to methylmercury, for which hair and blood are credible indicators, urine is the preferred biological medium for the determination of exposure to inorganic mercury, including elemental mercury, with blood normally being of value only if exposure is ongoing. Although treatments are available to help rid the body of mercury in cases of extreme exposure, prevention of exposure will make such treatments unnecessary. Knowing the sources of mercury and avoiding unnecessary exposure are the prudent ways of preventing mercury intoxication. When exposure occurs, it should be kept in mind that not all unwanted exposures will result in adverse health consequences. In all cases, elimination of the source of exposure should be the first priority of public health officials. PMID:18044248

  12. Mission to Planet Earth

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilson, Gregory S.; Backlund, Peter W.

    1992-01-01

    Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) is NASA's concept for an international science program to produce the understanding needed to predict changes in the Earth's environment. NASA and its interagency and international partners will place satellites carrying advanced sensors in strategic Earth orbits to gather multidisciplinary data. A sophisticated data system will process and archive an unprecedented amount of information about the Earth and how it works as a system. Increased understanding of the Earth system is a basic human responsibility, a prerequisite to informed management of the planet's resources and to the preservation of the global environment. An overview of the MTPE, flight programs, data and information systems, interdisciplinary research efforts, and international coordination, is presented.

  13. Dark compact planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tolos, Laura; Schaffner-Bielich, Jürgen

    2015-12-01

    We investigate compact objects formed by dark matter admixed with ordinary matter made of neutron-star matter and white-dwarf material. We consider non-self annihilating dark matter with an equation of state given by an interacting Fermi gas. We find new stable solutions, dark compact planets, with Earth-like masses and radii from a few Km to few hundred Km for weakly interacting dark matter which are stabilized by the mutual presence of dark matter and compact star matter. For the strongly interacting dark matter case, we obtain dark compact planets with Jupiter-like masses and radii of few hundred Km. These objects could be detected by observing exoplanets with unusually small radii. Moreover, we find that the recently observed 2 M⊙ pulsars set limits on the amount of dark matter inside neutron stars which is, at most, 1 0-6 M⊙ .

  14. Compiling Mercury relief map using several data sources

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zakharova, Maria; Lazarev, Evgeniy

    2015-04-01

    There are several data of Mercury topography obtained as the result of processing materials collected by two spacecrafts - the Mariner-10 and the MESSENGER during their Mercury flybys. The history of the visual mapping of the Mercury begins at the recent times as the first significant observations were made during the latter half of the 20th century, whereas today we have no data with 100% coverage for the entire surface of the Mercury except the global mosaic composed of the images acquired by MESSENGER. The Mercury relief map has been created with the help of four different types of data: - global mosaic with 100% coverage of Mercury's surface created by using MESSENGER orbital images (30% of the final map); - Digital Terrain Models obtained by the treating stereo images made during the Mariner 10's flybys (10% of the map) (Cook and Robinson, 2000); - Digital Terrain Models obtained from images acquired during the Messenger flybys (20% of the map) (F. Preusker et al., 2011); - the data sets produced by the MESSENGER Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) (40 % of the map). The main objective of this work is to collect, combine and process the existing data and then to merge them correctly for one single map compiling. The final map is created in the Lambert azimuthal Equal area projection and mainly shows the hypsometric features of the planet. It represents two hemispheres - western and eastern. In order not to divide data sources the eastern hemisphere takes an interval from 50 degrees east longitude to 130 degrees west longitude and the western one takes respectively the interval from 130 degrees west longitude to 50 degrees east longitude. References: Global mosaics of Mercury's surface. Available mosaics include one created prior to MESSENGER's orbital operations, high resolution versions that use MESSENGER's orbital images that are available in NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) (http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/mosaics.html). Cook, A.C., Robinson, M.S., 2000

  15. Observed properties of extrasolar planets.

    PubMed

    Howard, Andrew W

    2013-05-01

    Observational surveys for extrasolar planets probe the diverse outcomes of planet formation and evolution. These surveys measure the frequency of planets with different masses, sizes, orbital characteristics, and host star properties. Small planets between the sizes of Earth and Neptune substantially outnumber Jupiter-sized planets. The survey measurements support the core accretion model, in which planets form by the accumulation of solids and then gas in protoplanetary disks. The diversity of exoplanetary characteristics demonstrates that most of the gross features of the solar system are one outcome in a continuum of possibilities. The most common class of planetary system detectable today consists of one or more planets approximately one to three times Earth's size orbiting within a fraction of the Earth-Sun distance. PMID:23641110

  16. Dynamical Detection of Circumbinary Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clark Fabrycky, Daniel; Orosz, Jerome; Welsh, William

    2015-12-01

    The Kepler data revealed a population of transiting gas-giant planets orbiting around close binary stars, beginning with Kepler-16, a highlight of the Extreme Solar Systems II meeting. Due to the restrictive geometry requirements of transit detections, this population is highly observationally biased towards coplanarity. However, a third of those planets detectably perturb their host binary's eclipse times, such that they could have been recognized even without transits. Here we announce the detection of three non-transiting planets based on this dynamical technique. Apsidal precession due to the planet makes the primary and secondary eclipse periods differ, and in addition a short-term modulation of the binary's eclipse times reveals the planet's orbital period. Several planetary periods are observed for each system, buttressing the interpretation. Though the method is nearly equally sensitive to all orbital orientations, each planet orbits near its host binary's plane, suggesting this class of planets formed in the circumbinary nebula.

  17. Planet Forming Protostellar Disks

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lubow, Stephen

    1998-01-01

    The project achieved many of its objectives. The main area of investigation was the interaction of young binary stars with surrounding protostellar disks. A secondary objective was the interaction of young planets with their central stars and surrounding disks. The grant funds were used to support visits by coinvestigators and visitors: Pawel Artymowicz, James Pringle, and Gordon Ogilvie. Funds were also used to support travel to meetings by Lubow and to provide partial salary support.

  18. Pluto: Dwarf planet 134340

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ksanfomality, L. V.

    2016-01-01

    In recent decades, investigations of Pluto with up-to-date astronomical instruments yielded results that have been generally confirmed by the New Horizons mission. In 2006, in Prague, the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reclassified Pluto as a member of the dwarf planet category according to the criteria defined by the IAU for the term "planet". At the same time, interest in studies of Pluto was increasing, while the space investigations of Pluto were delayed. In 2006, the New Horizons Pluto spacecraft started its journey to Pluto. On July 14, 2015, the spacecraft, being in fly-by mode, made its closest approach to Pluto. The heterogeneities and properties of the surface and rarified atmosphere were investigated thoroughly. Due to the extreme remoteness of the spacecraft and the energy limitations, it will take 18 months to transmit the whole data volume. Along with the preliminary results of the New Horizons Pluto mission, this paper reviews the basics on Pluto and its moons acquired from the ground-based observations and with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). There are only a few meteorite craters on the surfaces of Pluto and Charon, which distinctly marks them apart from such satellites of the giant planets as Ganymede and Callisto. The explanation is that the surface of Pluto is young: its age is estimated at less than 100 Myr. Ice glaciers of apparently a nitrogen nature were found. Nitrogen is also the main component of the atmosphere of Pluto. The planet demonstrates the signs of strong geologic activity, though the energy sources of these processes are unknown.

  19. The genesis of planets.

    PubMed

    Lin, Douglas N C

    2008-05-01

    Barely a decade ago scientists who study how planets form had to base their theory on a single example-our solar system. Now they have dozens of mature systems and dozens more in birth throes. No two are alike. The basic idea behind the leading theory of planetary formation--tiny grains stick together and swoop up gas--conceals many levels of intricacy. A chaotic interplay among competing mechanisms leads to a huge diversity of outcomes. PMID:18444325

  20. Global change and mercury

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Krabbenhoft, David P.; Sunderland, Elsie M.

    2013-01-01

    More than 140 nations recently agreed to a legally binding treaty on reductions in human uses and releases of mercury that will be signed in October of this year. This follows the 2011 rule in the United States that for the first time regulates mercury emissions from electricity-generating utilities. Several decades of scientific research preceded these important regulations. However, the impacts of global change on environmental mercury concentrations and human exposures remain a major uncertainty affecting the potential effectiveness of regulatory activities.

  1. BepiColombo - a joint ESA/JAXA mission to explore Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benkhoff, J.; Fujimoto, M.; Zender, J.

    2015-10-01

    BepiColombo is a joint project between ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The Mission consists of two orbiters, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The mission scenario foresees a launch of both spacecraft with an ARIANE V in January 2017 and an arrival at Mercury in the first half of 2024. From their dedicated orbits the two spacecraft will be studying the planet and its environment. The MPO scientific payload comprises eleven instruments/instrument packages; the MMO scientific payload consists of five instruments/instrument packages. Together,the scientific payload of both spacecraft will perform measurements to find clues to the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star. The MPO on BepiColombo will focus on a global characterization of Mercury through the investigation of its interior, surface, exosphere and magnetosphere. In addition, it will be testing Einstein's theory of general relativity. The MMO provided by JAXA focuses on investigating the wave and particle environment of the planet from an eccentric orbit. Together, the scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide the detailed information necessary to understand the process of planetary formation and evolution in the hottest part of the proto-planetary nebula as well as the similarities and differences between the magnetospheres of Mercury and the Earth.

  2. CONDITIONS OF PASSAGE AND ENTRAPMENT OF TERRESTRIAL PLANETS IN SPIN-ORBIT RESONANCES

    SciTech Connect

    Makarov, Valeri V.

    2012-06-10

    The dynamical evolution of terrestrial planets resembling Mercury in the vicinity of spin-orbit resonances is investigated using comprehensive harmonic expansions of the tidal torque taking into account the frequency-dependent quality factors and Love numbers. The torque equations are integrated numerically with a small step in time, including the oscillating triaxial torque components but neglecting the layered structure of the planet and assuming a zero obliquity. We find that a Mercury-like planet with a current value of orbital eccentricity (0.2056) is always captured in 3:2 resonance. The probability of capture in the higher 2:1 resonance is approximately 0.23. These results are confirmed by a semi-analytical estimation of capture probabilities as functions of eccentricity for both prograde and retrograde evolutions of spin rate. As follows from analysis of equilibrium torques, entrapment in 3:2 resonance is inevitable at eccentricities between 0.2 and 0.41. Considering the phase space parameters at the times of periastron, the range of spin rates and phase angles for which an immediate resonance passage is triggered is very narrow, and yet a planet like Mercury rarely fails to align itself into this state of unstable equilibrium before it traverses 2:1 resonance.

  3. Extrasolar planet detection

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Korechoff, R. P.; Diner, D. J.; Tubbs, E. F.; Gaiser, S. L.

    1994-01-01

    This paper discusses the concept of extrasolar planet detection using a large-aperture infared imaging telescope. Coronagraphic stellar apodization techniques are less efficient at infrared wavelengths compared to the visible, as a result of practical limitations on aperture dimensions, thus necessitating additional starlight suppression to make planet detection feasible in this spectral domain. We have been investigating the use of rotational shearing interferometry to provide up to three orders of magnitude of starlight suppression over broad spectral bandwidths. We present a theoretical analysis of the system performance requirements needed to make this a viable instrument for planet detection, including specifications on the interferometer design and telescope aperture characteristics. The concept of using rotational shearing interferometry as a wavefront error detector, thus providing a signal that can be used to adaptively correct the wavefront, will be discussed. We also present the status of laboratory studies of on-axis source suppression using a recently constructed rotational shearing interferometer that currently operates in the visible.

  4. The Gemini Planet Imager

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Graham, James R.; Macintosh, Bruce; Perrin, Marshall D.; Ingraham, Patrick; Konopacky, Quinn M.; Marois, Christian; Poyneer, Lisa; Bauman, Brian; Barman, Travis; Burrows, Adam Seth; Cardwell, Andrew; Chilcote, Jeffrey K.; De Rosa, Robert John J.; Dillon, Daren; Doyon, Rene; Dunn, Jennifer; Erikson, Darren; Fitzgerald, Michael P.; Gavel, Donald; Goodsell, Stephen J.; Hartung, Markus; Hibon, Pascale; Kalas, Paul; Larkin, James E.; Maire, Jerome; Marchis, Franck; Marley, Mark S.; McBride, James; Millar-Blanchaer, Max; Morzinski, Kathleen M.; Nielsen, Eric L.; Norton, Andew; Oppenheimer, Rebecca; Palmer, David; Patience, Jenny; Pueyo, Laurent; Rantakyro, Fredrik; Sadakuni, Naru; Saddlemeyer, Leslie; Savransky, Dmitry; Serio, Andrew W.; Soummer, Remi; Sivaramakrishnan, Anand; Song, Inseok; Thomas, Sandrine; Wallace, J. Kent; Wang, Jason; Wiktorowicz, Sloane; Wolff, Schulyer; Gpi/Gpies Team

    2015-01-01

    The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets. It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. Every aspect of GPI has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars. GPI has undergone a year of commissioning, verification, and calibration work. We have achieved an estimated H-band contrast (5-sigma) of 106 at 0.75 arcseconds and 105 at 0.35 arcseconds in spectral mode, and suppression of unpolarized starlight by a factor of 800 in imaging polarimetry mode. Early science observations include study of the spectra of β Pic b and HR 8799, orbital investigations of β Pic b and PZ Tel, and observations of the debris disk systems associated with β Pic, AU Mic, and HR 4796A. An 890-hour exoplanet survey with GPI is scheduled to begin in late 2014. A status report for the campaign will be presented.

  5. Complex patterns in the distribution of planets show planet migration and planet and star properties

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Taylor, Stuart F.

    2015-08-01

    We present dramatic patterns in the distribution of exoplanet periods and eccentricities that vary as functions of iron abundance of the host star, planet mass, stellar properties, and presence of a stellar companion. These patterns include surprising peaks and gaps. They raise the question of whether planets themselves contribute to increasing stellar metallicity by causing other planets or material to “pollute” the star.We also show that the falloff in planets at the shortest periods can be used to determine the rate of planets migrating into the star as a function of the strength of tidal dissipation in the star. A small rate of planets migrating into the star can produce the observed population of the shortest period planets without having to invoke extremely weak tidal dissipation. Tidal dissipation strengths stronger than the tidal quality factor Q being equal to 107 are possible if there is a moderate flow of giant planets into the star. It is likely that within a decade it will be possible to measure the time shift of transits of the shortest period orbits due to orbital period decreases caused by tidal migration.The distribution of the shortest period planets indicates that the strength of tidal dissipation in stars is a function of stellar mass, making it worthwhile to monitor the shortest period systems for time shifts across a range of stellar masses. This time shift is inversely proportional to the lifetime of a planet.It is essential to know the rate of planets migrating into stars in order to understand whether inflated planets are only briefly inflated during a faster migration into the star, or if planets maintain anomalously large radii for longer periods of time.The paucity of Neptune-mass planets at the shortest periods could be due either to a lower rate of inward migration or to evaporation. Knowing how evaporation contributes to this paucity could help determine the fractions of planets that are rock, liquid water, or gas.

  6. Tectonic Controls on Pyroclastic Volcanism on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Habermann, M.; Klimczak, C.

    2015-12-01

    Over much of Mercury's geologic history the planet has contracted as a response to cooling of its interior. Such contraction is evident as landforms formed by thrust faults, which have accommodated a radius decrease of ~5 km. Stresses from global contraction imposed on the lithosphere are not favorable for and prevent volcanism. Yet, there are examples on Mercury where pyroclastic deposits superpose thrust faults, indicating that explosive volcanism has occurred after the onset of global contraction. To better understand the spatial relationships of thrust faults with the pyroclastic vents, we used MESSENGER image data to categorize 343 vents by their occurrence either (1) within 30 km, (2) within 100 km, or (3) farther than 100 km from a thrust fault, using ArcGIS. Vents were also classified by their association with impact craters. Results show that 75% of all vents are located within impact structures, with 36% of vents within 30 km of thrust faults, 41% located farther than 30 but within 100 km of thrust faults, and 23% of vents are farther than 100 km from a thrust fault. To investigate whether this geospatial relationship is tectonically controlled, three areas —representing the three categories of vents— were mapped, and the locations and orientations of vents and faults were recorded. Stress changes around these faults were then numerically modeled with the COULOMB 3.4 software, using elastic rock properties, a background stress field, and fault size- and dislocation parameters applicable to conditions of Mercury's global contractional tectonic environment. Preliminary results indicate that stress changes can locally produce conditions beneficial for volcanism. Further modeling will determine if such beneficial conditions are geospatially correlated with the pyroclastic vents and thus enable a better understanding of pyroclastic volcanism on Mercury after the onset of global contraction.

  7. PREDICTING PLANETS IN KEPLER MULTI-PLANET SYSTEMS

    SciTech Connect

    Fang, Julia; Margot, Jean-Luc

    2012-05-20

    We investigate whether any multi-planet systems among Kepler candidates (2011 February release) can harbor additional terrestrial-mass planets or smaller bodies. We apply the packed planetary systems hypothesis that suggests all planetary systems are filled to capacity, and use a Hill stability criterion to identify eight two-planet systems with significant gaps between the innermost and outermost planets. For each of these systems, we perform long-term numerical integrations of 10{sup 7} years to investigate the stability of 4000-8000 test particles injected into the gaps. We map out stability regions in orbital parameter space, and therefore quantify the ranges of semimajor axes and eccentricities of stable particles. Strong mean-motion resonances can add additional regions of stability in otherwise unstable parameter space. We derive simple expressions for the extent of the stability regions, which is related to quantities such as the dynamical spacing {Delta}, the separation between two planets in units of their mutual Hill radii. Our results suggest that planets with separation {Delta} < 10 are unlikely to host extensive stability regions, and that about 95 out of a total of 115 two-planet systems in the Kepler sample may have sizeable stability regions. We predict that Kepler candidate systems including KOI 433, KOI 72/Kepler-10, KOI 555, KOI 1596, KOI 904, KOI 223, KOI 1590, and KOI 139 can harbor additional planets or low-mass bodies between the inner and outer detected planets. These predicted planets may be detected by future observations.

  8. The Effect of Giant Planets on Terrestrial Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barclay, Thomas; Quintana, Elisa

    2015-12-01

    The giant planets in the Solar System likely played a defining role in shaping the properties of the Earth and other terrestrial planets during their formation. Observations from the Kepler spacecraft indicate that terrestrial planets are highly abundant. However, there are hints that giant planets a few AU from their stars are relatively uncommon based on long baseline radial velocity searches. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that many terrestrial planets lack a Jupiter-like companion. We use a recently developed, state-of-the-art N-body model that allows for collisional fragmentation to perform hundreds of numerical simulations of the final stages of terrestrial planet formation around a Sun-like star -- with and without giant outer planets. We quantify the effects that outer giant planet companions have on collisions and the planet accretion process. We focus on Earth-analogs that form in each system and explore how giant planets influence the relative frequency of giant impacts occurring at late times.

  9. Analysis of Possible Magnetic Field Configurations of Mercury In Response To The Impinging Solar Wind: Open Field Regions and Magnetosheath Plasma Access Into The Inner Regions.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Massetti, S.; Orsini, S.; Milillo, A.; Mura, A.; de Angelis, E.

    The presence of a magnetosphere around Mercury plays a fundamental role on the way the solar wind plasma interacts with the planet. In particular, the relative weakness of the magnetic field compared with the size of Mercury, together with the absence of an atmosphere, leads to relevant differences between the physical phenomena acting on Earth and Mercury. On the basis of a modified Tsyganenko T96 model we try to figure out the geometry of the magnetic field that could characterise Mercury, and its response to the variations of the impinging solar wind. The investigation is focused on the shape and dimension of the open field regions (cusps) that allow the direct pen- etration of magnetosheath plasma through the exosphere of Mercury, till its surface. Target of the study is the evaluation of the sputtered particles from the crust of the planet, and their contribution to neutral particle production in the exosphere.

  10. Mass-Radius Relationships for Low-Mass Planets: From Iron Planets to Water Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kuchner, Marc

    2007-01-01

    Transit observations, and radial velocity measurements, have begun to populate the mass radius diagram for extrasolar planets; fubture astrometric measurements and direct images promise more mass and radius information. Clearly, the bulk density of a planet indicates something about a planet s composition--but what? I will attempt to answer this question in general for low-mass planets (planets obey a kind of universal mass-radius relationship: an expansion whose first term is M approx. R(sup 3).

  11. Gravity Field and Internal Structure of Mercury from MESSENGER

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria T.; Phillips, Roger J.; Solomon, Sean C.; Hauck, Steven A., II; Lemoine, Frank G.; Mazarico, Erwan; Neumann, Gregory A.; Peale, Stanton J.; Margot, Jean-Luc; Johnson, Catherine L.; Torrence, Mark H.; Perry, Mark E.; Rowlands, David D.; Goossens, Sander; Head, James W.; Taylor, Anthony H.

    2012-01-01

    Radio tracking of the MESSENGER spacecraft has provided a model of Mercury's gravity field. In the northern hemisphere, several large gravity anomalies, including candidate mass concentrations (mascons), exceed 100 milli-Galileos (mgal). Mercury's northern hemisphere crust is thicker at low latitudes and thinner in the polar region and shows evidence for thinning beneath some impact basins. The low-degree gravity field, combined with planetary spin parameters, yields the moment of inertia C/M(R(exp 2) = 0.353 +/- 0.017, where M and R are Mercury's mass and radius, and a ratio of the moment of inertia of Mercury's solid outer shell to that of the planet of C(sub m)/C = 0.452 +/- 0.035. A model for Mercury s radial density distribution consistent with these results includes a solid silicate crust and mantle overlying a solid iron-sulfide layer and an iron-rich liquid outer core and perhaps a solid inner core.

  12. Gravity field and internal structure of Mercury from MESSENGER.

    PubMed

    Smith, David E; Zuber, Maria T; Phillips, Roger J; Solomon, Sean C; Hauck, Steven A; Lemoine, Frank G; Mazarico, Erwan; Neumann, Gregory A; Peale, Stanton J; Margot, Jean-Luc; Johnson, Catherine L; Torrence, Mark H; Perry, Mark E; Rowlands, David D; Goossens, Sander; Head, James W; Taylor, Anthony H

    2012-04-13

    Radio tracking of the MESSENGER spacecraft has provided a model of Mercury's gravity field. In the northern hemisphere, several large gravity anomalies, including candidate mass concentrations (mascons), exceed 100 milli-Galileos (mgal). Mercury's northern hemisphere crust is thicker at low latitudes and thinner in the polar region and shows evidence for thinning beneath some impact basins. The low-degree gravity field, combined with planetary spin parameters, yields the moment of inertia C/MR(2) = 0.353 ± 0.017, where M and R are Mercury's mass and radius, and a ratio of the moment of inertia of Mercury's solid outer shell to that of the planet of C(m)/C = 0.452 ± 0.035. A model for Mercury's radial density distribution consistent with these results includes a solid silicate crust and mantle overlying a solid iron-sulfide layer and an iron-rich liquid outer core and perhaps a solid inner core. PMID:22438509

  13. Mercury: Photomosaic of the Michelangelo Quadrangle H-12

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2000-01-01

    The Michelangelo Quadrangle, which lies in Mercury's southern polar region, was named in memory of the famous Italian artist. The Mercurian surface is heavily marred by numerous impact craters. Ejecta deposits, seen as bright lines or rays, radiate outward from the point of impact, along the planet's surface indicating the source craters are young topographical features. The rays found on Mercury are similar to ones found on the surface of Earth's moon.

    Several large lobate scarps, steep and long escarpments which usually show a largely lobate outline on a scale of a few to tens of kilometers, are clearly visible in the lower left side of the image slicing through a variety of terrains including several large impact craters.

    The Image Processing Lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory produced this photomosaic using computer software and techniques developed for use in processing planetary data. The images used to construct the Michelangelo Quadrangle were taken during Mariner 10's second flyby of Mercury.

    The Mariner 10 spacecraft was launched in 1974. The spacecraft took images of Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury in March and September 1974 and March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 images of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon during its mission.

    The Mariner 10 Mission was managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C.

  14. Energization and Precipitation of Electrons in Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schriver, D.; Travnicek, P. M.; Ho, G. C.; Starr, R. D.; Domingue, D. L.; Baker, D. N.; Hellinger, P.; Krimigis, S. M.; McNutt, R. L., Jr.; Raines, J. M.; Slavin, J. A.; Solomon, S. C.

    2015-12-01

    Observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around Mercury from 2011 to 2015 have established that Mercury's magnetosphere hosts a quasi-trapped population of electrons with bulk energies of 1-10 keV centered about the magnetic equator. Although there are occasional observations of higher-energy (> 35 keV) electrons within the magnetosphere, there is no high-energy radiation belt present at Mercury similar to those at the other planets in our solar system with global magnetic fields, including Earth, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. Observations from MESSENGER's X-Ray Spectrometer and simulations have also established that the 1-10 keV electron population around Mercury precipitates to the surface in an auroral-oval-type pattern with fluxes of ~109-1010 cm-2s-1. Global simulation modeling has determined that the quasi-trapped electrons are energized in Mercury's magnetotail via a combination non-adiabatic particle acceleration near magnetic reconnection regions and betatron/Fermi acceleration. Precipitating 1-10 keV electrons cause X-rays to be generated and emitted from the surface, and also can result in the ejection of sodium ions into the magnetosphere through the process of electron-stimulated desorption. Long-term electron precipitation may result in space weathering of the surface regolith.

  15. The Rocky Planet Survey

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fischer, Debra

    In direct support of the NASA Origins program, we propose the Rocky Planet Survey, a high cadence exoplanet search of sixty late G and K dwarf stars using the CHIRON spectrometer, which we built and commissioned at CTIO. CHIRON operates in two high- resolution modes (R=90,000 and R=120,000) and has a demonstrated precision of better than 1 m s-1. We are contributing 200 nights of telescope time for the next three years, for the excellent phase coverage needed to carry out this work. We have developed simulation software to optimize scheduling of observations to suppress aliases and quickly extract dynamical signals. Our science objectives are to (1) provide a statistical assessment of planet occurrence as a function of decreasing mass in the range of parameter space 3 < Msini < 30 MEARTH for orbital periods up to 50 days, (2) to determine the fraction of low mass planets in multi-planet architectures, and (3) detect planets with Msini < 3 MEARTH in orbital periods shorter than ~20 days. In addition to the science objectives, we intend to push the frontiers of extreme precision Doppler measurements to keep the U.S. competitive with the next generation of European Doppler spectroscopy (ESPRESSO on the VLT). Our team has significant expertise in optical design, fiber coupling, raw extraction, barycentric velocity corrections, and Doppler analysis. The proposed work includes a new optimal extraction algorithm, with the optical designers and software engineers working together on the 2-D PSF description needed for a proper row-by-row extraction and calibration. We will also develop and test upgrades to the barycentric correction code and improvements in the Doppler code that take advantage of stability in the dispersion solution, afforded by a new vacuum-enclosed grating upgrade (scheduled for November 2011). We will test use of emission wavelength calibrations to extend the iodine (absorption) wavelength calibration that we currently use to prepare for eventual use of

  16. Recovery of mercury from mercury compounds via electrolytic methods

    DOEpatents

    Grossman, M.W.; George, W.A.

    1989-11-07

    A process for electrolytically recovering mercury from mercury compounds is provided. In one embodiment, Hg is recovered from Hg[sub 2]Cl[sub 2] employing as the electrolyte solution a mixture of HCl and H[sub 2]O. In another embodiment, Hg is electrolytically recovered from HgO wherein the electrolyte solution is comprised of glacial acetic acid and H[sub 2]O. Also provided is an apparatus for producing isotopically enriched mercury compounds in a reactor and then transporting the dissolved compounds into an electrolytic cell where mercury ions are electrolytically reduced and elemental mercury recovered from the mercury compounds. 3 figs.

  17. Recovery of mercury from mercury compounds via electrolytic methods

    DOEpatents

    Grossman, Mark W.; George, William A.

    1989-01-01

    A process for electrolytically recovering mercury from mercury compounds is provided. In one embodiment, Hg is recovered from Hg.sub.2 Cl.sub.2 employing as the electrolyte solution a mixture of HCl and H.sub.2 O. In another embodiment, Hg is electrolytically recovered from HgO wherein the electrolyte solution is comprised of glacial acetic acid and H.sub.2 O. Also provided is an apparatus for producing isotopically enriched mercury compounds in a reactor and then transporting the dissolved compounds into an electrolytic cell where mercury ions are electrolytically reduced and elemental mercury recovered from the mercury compounds.

  18. Recovery of mercury from mercury compounds via electrolytic methods

    DOEpatents

    Grossman, M.W.; George, W.A.

    1991-06-18

    A process for electrolytically recovering mercury from mercury compounds is provided. In one embodiment, Hg is recovered from Hg[sub 2]Cl[sub 2] employing as the electrolyte solution a mixture of HCl and H[sub 2]O. In another embodiment, Hg is electrolytically recovered from HgO wherein the electrolyte solution is comprised of glacial acetic acid and H[sub 2]O. Also provided is an apparatus for producing isotopically enriched mercury compounds in a reactor and then transporting the dissolved compounds into an electrolytic cell where mercury ions are electrolytically reduced and elemental mercury recovered from the mercury compounds. 3 figures.

  19. Recovery of mercury from mercury compounds via electrolytic methods

    DOEpatents

    Grossman, Mark W.; George, William A.

    1991-01-01

    A process for electrolytically recovering mercury from mercury compounds is provided. In one embodiment, Hg is recovered from Hg.sub.2 Cl.sub.2 employing as the electrolyte solution a mixture of HCl and H.sub.2 O. In another embodiment, Hg is electrolytically recovered from HgO wherein the electrolyte solution is comprised of glacial acetic acid and H.sub.2 O. Also provided is an apparatus for producing isotopically enriched mercury compounds in a reactor and then transporting the dissolved compounds into an electrolytic cell where mercury ions are electrolytically reduced and elemental mercury recovered from the mercury compounds.

  20. Recovery of mercury from mercury compounds via electrolytic methods

    DOEpatents

    Grossman, Mark W.; George, William A.

    1988-01-01

    A process for electrolytically recovering mercury from mercury compounds is provided. In one embodiment, Hg is recovered from Hg.sub.2 Cl.sub.2 employing as the electrolyte solution a mixture of HCl and H.sub.2 O. In another embodiment, Hg is electrolytically recovered from HgO wherein the electrolyte solution is comprised of glacial acetic acid and H.sub.2 O. Also provided is an apparatus for producing isotopically enriched mercury compounds in a reactor and then transporting the dissolved compounds into an electrolytic cell where mercury ions are electrolytically reduced and elemental mercury recovered from the mercury compounds.

  1. Calcium in Mercury's Exosphere: Modeling MESSENGER Data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Burger, M. H.; Killen, R. M.; McClintock, W. E.; Merkel, A. W.; Vervack, R. J.; Sarantos, M.; Sprague, A. L.

    2011-12-01

    Mercury is surrounded by a surface-bounded exosphere known to contain hydrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Because the exosphere is collisionless, its composition represents a balance of active source and loss processes. The Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has made high-spatial-resolution observations of sodium, calcium, and magnesium near Mercury's surface and in the extended, anti-sunward direction. The most striking feature of these data is the substantial differences among species, which was detected during three close flybys of the planet and has been persistantly present during MESSENGER's orbital phase. Our modeling demonstrates that these differences are not because of post-ejection dynamics such as differences in photo-ionization rate and radiation pressure, but rather result from differences in the source mechanisms and regions on the surface from which each species is ejected. The observations of calcium have revealed a strong dawn/dusk asymmetry, with the abundance over the dawn hemisphere substantially greater than that on the dusk side. To understand this asymmetry, we use a Monte Carlo model of Mercury's exosphere that we developed to track the motions of exospheric neutrals under the influence of gravity and radiation pressure. In this model, Ca atoms can be ejected directly from the surface or produced by ejection of CaO followed by dissociation to produce Ca and O. Particles are removed from the system if they stick to the surface or escape from the model region of interest (within 15 Mercury radii). Photoionization reduces the final weighting given to each particle when simulating the Ca radiance. Data from the flybys are consistent with a high temperature (~1-2 x 104 K) source of atomic Ca concentrated over the dawn hemisphere. Such a high temperature resutls from dissociation of CaO in a near

  2. Irreversible evolution of the terrestrial planets (geological and petrological data)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sharkov, E.; Bogatikov, O.

    2008-09-01

    Abstract Comparative studying of tectonomagmatic evolution of the Earth and the Moon shows that cardinal irreversible change in character of tectonomagmatic processes occurred at middle stages of their evolution; very likely such changes took place on other terrestrial planets (Venus, Mars and Mercury). As a result, primordial crusts of the planets were in considerable degree replaced by secondary basaltic ones. The established succession of events on the Earth could be provided by a combination of two independent factors: (1) it was originally heterogeneous and 2) its downward heating was followed by the cooling of its outer shells. As a result the primary iron core material was long time remained untouched and was involved into global tectonomagmatic processes at ca. 2.4-2.3 Ga. We concluded about a similar scenario for the evolution of Moon and other terrestrial planets. Tectonomagmatic evolution of the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Moon) was studied. What did major stages of their irreversible evolution occur before they turned into "dead" stone balls? We discuss these problems on examples of the Earth and the Moon, which evolution studied the best. According to modern views, after accretion of these bodies, magma oceans of some hundreds km deep appeared on their surface. According to Jeffries [1], solidification of large molted bodies, because of the difference between adiabatic gradient in silicate melts (0.3oC/km) and gradient of their melting points (3oC/km), could be going only upwards, from the bottom to the surface. As a result a powerful crystallizing differentiation of the oceans' magmas occurred with accumulation of the most low-melting components to the surface. Due to different deep of the magma oceans on the Earth and the Moon, the primordial crusts on these bodies were rather different: sialic on the Earth and basic (anorthosite) on the Moon.

  3. Secular chaos and its application to Mercury, hot Jupiters, and the organization of planetary systems.

    PubMed

    Lithwick, Yoram; Wu, Yanqin

    2014-09-01

    In the inner solar system, the planets' orbits evolve chaotically, driven primarily by secular chaos. Mercury has a particularly chaotic orbit and is in danger of being lost within a few billion years. Just as secular chaos is reorganizing the solar system today, so it has likely helped organize it in the past. We suggest that extrasolar planetary systems are also organized to a large extent by secular chaos. A hot Jupiter could be the end state of a secularly chaotic planetary system reminiscent of the solar system. However, in the case of the hot Jupiter, the innermost planet was Jupiter (rather than Mercury) sized, and its chaotic evolution was terminated when it was tidally captured by its star. In this contribution, we review our recent work elucidating the physics of secular chaos and applying it to Mercury and to hot Jupiters. We also present results comparing the inclinations of hot Jupiters thus produced with observations. PMID:24367108

  4. The major-element composition of Mercury's surface from MESSENGER X-ray spectrometry.

    PubMed

    Nittler, Larry R; Starr, Richard D; Weider, Shoshana Z; McCoy, Timothy J; Boynton, William V; Ebel, Denton S; Ernst, Carolyn M; Evans, Larry G; Goldsten, John O; Hamara, David K; Lawrence, David J; McNutt, Ralph L; Schlemm, Charles E; Solomon, Sean C; Sprague, Ann L

    2011-09-30

    X-ray fluorescence spectra obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury indicate that the planet's surface differs in composition from those of other terrestrial planets. Relatively high Mg/Si and low Al/Si and Ca/Si ratios rule out a lunarlike feldspar-rich crust. The sulfur abundance is at least 10 times higher than that of the silicate portion of Earth or the Moon, and this observation, together with a low surface Fe abundance, supports the view that Mercury formed from highly reduced precursor materials, perhaps akin to enstatite chondrite meteorites or anhydrous cometary dust particles. Low Fe and Ti abundances do not support the proposal that opaque oxides of these elements contribute substantially to Mercury's low and variable surface reflectance. PMID:21960623

  5. Evidence for young volcanism on Mercury from the third MESSENGER flyby.

    PubMed

    Prockter, Louise M; Ernst, Carolyn M; Denevi, Brett W; Chapman, Clark R; Head, James W; Fassett, Caleb I; Merline, William J; Solomon, Sean C; Watters, Thomas R; Strom, Robert G; Cremonese, Gabriele; Marchi, Simone; Massironi, Matteo

    2010-08-01

    During its first two flybys of Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft acquired images confirming that pervasive volcanism occurred early in the planet's history. MESSENGER's third Mercury flyby revealed a 290-kilometer-diameter peak-ring impact basin, among the youngest basins yet seen, having an inner floor filled with spectrally distinct smooth plains. These plains are sparsely cratered, postdate the formation of the basin, apparently formed from material that once flowed across the surface, and are therefore interpreted to be volcanic in origin. An irregular depression surrounded by a halo of bright deposits northeast of the basin marks a candidate explosive volcanic vent larger than any previously identified on Mercury. Volcanism on the planet thus spanned a considerable duration, perhaps extending well into the second half of solar system history. PMID:20647421

  6. Mercury cycling in terrestrial watersheds

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shanley, James B.; Bishop, Kevin

    2012-01-01

    This chapter discusses mercury cycling in the terrestrial landscape, including inputs from the atmosphere, accumulation in soils and vegetation, outputs in streamflow and volatilization, and effects of land disturbance. Mercury mobility in the terrestrial landscape is strongly controlled by organic matter. About 90% of the atmospheric mercury input is retained in vegetation and organic matter in soils, causing a buildup of legacy mercury. Some mercury is volatilized back to the atmosphere, but most export of mercury from watersheds occurs by streamflow. Stream mercury export is episodic, in association with dissolved and particulate organic carbon, as stormflow and snowmelt flush organic-rich shallow soil horizons. The terrestrial landscape is thus a major source of mercury to downstream aquatic environments, where mercury is methylated and enters the aquatic food web. With ample organic matter and sulfur, methylmercury forms in uplands as well—in wetlands, riparian zones, and other anoxic sites. Watershed features (topography, land cover type, and soil drainage class) are often more important than atmospheric mercury deposition in controlling the amount of stream mercury and methylmercury export. While reductions in atmospheric mercury deposition may rapidly benefit lakes, the terrestrial landscape will respond only over decades, because of the large stock and slow turnover of legacy mercury. We conclude with a discussion of future scenarios and the challenge of managing terrestrial mercury.

  7. ULF Waves at Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kim, E.-H.; Boardsen, S. A.; Johnson, J. R.; Slavin, J. A.

    2016-02-01

    This chapter provides a brief overview of the observed characteristics of ultra-low-frequency (ULF) waves at Mercury. It shows how field-aligned propagating ULF waves at Mercury can be generated by externally driven fast compressional waves (FWs) via mode conversion at the ion-ion hybrid resonance. Then, the chapter reviews the interpretation that the strong magnetic compressional waves near and its harmonics observed with 20 of Mercury's magnetic equator could be the ion Bernstein wave (IBW) mode. A recent statistical study of ULF waves at Mercury based on MESSENGER data reported the occurrence and polarization of the detected waves. The chapter further introduces the field line resonance and the electromagnetic ion Bernstein waves to explain such waves, and shows that both theories can partially explain the observations.

  8. Duration of activity on lobate-scarp thrust faults on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Banks, Maria E.; Xiao, Zhiyong; Watters, Thomas R.; Strom, Robert G.; Braden, Sarah E.; Chapman, Clark R.; Solomon, Sean C.; Klimczak, Christian; Byrne, Paul K.

    2015-11-01

    Lobate scarps, landforms interpreted as the surface manifestation of thrust faults, are widely distributed across Mercury and preserve a record of its history of crustal deformation. Their formation is primarily attributed to the accommodation of horizontal shortening of Mercury's lithosphere in response to cooling and contraction of the planet's interior. Analyses of images acquired by the Mariner 10 and MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft during flybys of Mercury showed that thrust faults were active at least as far back in time as near the end of emplacement of the largest expanses of smooth plains. However, the full temporal extent of thrust fault activity on Mercury, particularly the duration of this activity following smooth plains emplacement, remained poorly constrained. Orbital images from the MESSENGER spacecraft reveal previously unrecognized stratigraphic relations between lobate scarps and impact craters of differing ages and degradation states. Analysis of these stratigraphic relations indicates that contraction has been a widespread and long-lived process on the surface of Mercury. Thrust fault activity had initiated by a time near the end of the late heavy bombardment of the inner solar system and continued through much or all of Mercury's subsequent history. Such deformation likely resulted from the continuing secular cooling of Mercury's interior.

  9. The Kepler Mission: A Search for Terrestrial Planets - Development Status

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Koch, David; Borucki, W.; Mayer, D.; Caldwell, D.; Jenkens, J.; Dunham, E.; Geary, J.; Bachtell, E.; Deininger, W.; Philbrick, R.

    2003-01-01

    We have embarked on a mission to detect terrestrial planets. The space mission has been optimized to search for earth-size planets (0.5 to 10 earth masses) in the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-like stars. Given this design, the mission will necessarily be capable of not only detecting Earth analogs, but a wide range of planetary types and characteristics ranging from Mercury-size objects with orbital periods of days to gas-giants in decade long orbits that have undeniable signatures even with only one transit detected. The mission is designed to survey the full range of spectral-type dwarf stars. The approach is to detect the periodic signal of transiting planets. Three or more transits of a star exceeding a combined threshold of eight sigma with a statistically consistent period, brightness change and duration provide a rigorous method of detection. From the relative brightness change the planet size can be calculated. From the period the orbital size can be calculated and its location relative to the HZ determined. Presented here are: the mission goals, the top level system design requirements derived from these goals that drive the flight system design, a number of the trades that have lead to the mission concept, expected photometric performance dependence on stellar brightness and spectral type based on the system 'noise tree' analysis. Updated estimates are presented of the numbers of detectable planets versus size, orbit, stellar spectral type and distances based on a planet frequency hypothesis. The current project schedule and organization are given.

  10. Astrometric Planet Searches with SIM PlanetQuest

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Beichman, Charles A.; Unwin, Stephen C.; Shao, Michael; Tanner, Angelle M.; Catanzarite, Joseph H.; March, Geoffrey W.

    2007-01-01

    SIM will search for planets with masses as small as the Earth's orbiting in the habitable zones' around more than 100 of the stars and could discover many dozen if Earth-like planets are common. With a planned 'Deep Survey' of 100-450 stars (depending on desired mass sensitivity) SIM will search for terrestrial planets around all of the candidate target stars for future direct detection missions such as Terrestrial Planet Finder and Darwin, SIM's 'Broad Survey' of 2010 stars will characterize single and multiple-planet systems around a wide variety of stellar types, including many now inaccessible with the radial velocity technique. In particular, SIM will search for planets around young stars providing insights into how planetary systems are born and evolve with time.

  11. Mercury's Exosphere explored by BepiColombo mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hikosaka, K.; Yoshikawa, I.; Yamazaki, A.; Nozawa, H.; Kameda, S.; Yoshioka, K.

    2005-12-01

    The Mercury's Sodium Atmosphere Interferometer (MSASI) on BepiColombo will address a wealth of fundamental scientific questions pertaining to the Mercury's exosphere. Together, our measurement on the overall scale will provide ample new information on regolith-exosphere-magnetosphere coupling as well as new understanding of the dynamics governing the surface-bounded exosphere. Discoveries of Na, K and Ca from the ground-based observations clearly arises that the regolith of Mercury releases a fraction of its content to the atmosphere. Some processes are proposed up to now as release mechanisms, e.g. (1) Chemical sputtering, (2) Thermal desorption, (3) Photon-stimulated desorption, (4) Ion sputtering, and (5) Micro-meteoroid impact/vaporization. These processes are associated with different energies of ejection from regolith and behaviors in different regions of Mercury's surface. Therefore different types of population are born from the surface, depending on the process. The distribution of the neutral atmosphere is strongly affected by solar radiation. The shape and size of the exosphere could change depending on True anomaly angle (TAA). We can see the variability of the spatial distribution of the Mercury atmosphere using the Monte Carlo simulation. MSASI is a high-dispersion visible spectrometer working in the spectral range around sodium D2 emission (589nm) and devoted to the characterization of the Mercury_fs exosphere. A tandem Fabry-Perot etalon is used to achieve a compact design. A one degree-of-freedom scanning mirror is employed to allow obtaining full-disk image of the planet and selected region of interest, e.g. polar regions, Caloris Basin, and magnetosphere. In this paper, we will show the feasibility of identifying a process, which is responsible for sodium exosphere of Mercury. We also report the current status of our hardware development.

  12. Mercury CEM Calibration

    SciTech Connect

    John F. Schabron; Joseph F. Rovani; Susan S. Sorini

    2007-03-31

    The Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) which was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2005, requires that calibration of mercury continuous emissions monitors (CEMs) be performed with NIST-traceable standards. Western Research Institute (WRI) is working closely with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to facilitate the development of the experimental criteria for a NIST traceability protocol for dynamic elemental mercury vapor generators. The traceability protocol will be written by EPA. Traceability will be based on the actual analysis of the output of each calibration unit at several concentration levels ranging from about 2-40 ug/m{sup 3}, and this analysis will be directly traceable to analyses by NIST using isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry (ID ICP/MS) through a chain of analyses linking the calibration unit in the power plant to the NIST ID ICP/MS. Prior to this project, NIST did not provide a recommended mercury vapor pressure equation or list mercury vapor pressure in its vapor pressure database. The NIST Physical and Chemical Properties Division in Boulder, Colorado was subcontracted under this project to study the issue in detail and to recommend a mercury vapor pressure equation that the vendors of mercury vapor pressure calibration units can use to calculate the elemental mercury vapor concentration in an equilibrium chamber at a particular temperature. As part of this study, a preliminary evaluation of calibration units from five vendors was made. The work was performed by NIST in Gaithersburg, MD and Joe Rovani from WRI who traveled to NIST as a Visiting Scientist.

  13. Mercury iodide crystal growth

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cadoret, R.

    1982-01-01

    The purpose of the Mercury Iodide Crystal Growth (MICG) experiment is the growth of near-perfect single crystals of mercury Iodide (HgI2) in a microgravity environment which will decrease the convection effects on crystal growth. Evaporation and condensation are the only transformations involved in this experiment. To accomplish these objectives, a two-zone furnace will be used in which two sensors collect the temperature data (one in each zone).

  14. An Overview of MESSENGER's First Encounter with Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anderson, B. J.; Slavin, J. A.; Acuna, M. H.; Korth, H.; Zurbuchen, T. H.; Raines, J. M.; Gloecker, G.; Gold, R. E.; Ho, G. C.; Krimigis, S. M.; Livi, S. A.; Baker, D. N.; Schriver, D.; Travnicek, P.; Benna, M.; Boardsen, S. A.; McNutt, R. L.; Solomon, S. C.

    2008-05-01

    As the MESSENGER spacecraft performed a gravity assist at Mercury on 14 January 2008, observations were made of Mercury's magnetic field, plasma, and energetic particle environment, including the first-ever ion observations at the planet. Mercury's magnetosphere presents a particularly stiff test of theories of the solar wind interaction with magnetized bodies because both the spatial and temporal kinetic and fluid scales overlap to a considerable degree. This overview provides the context for detailed analyses of the many varied phenomena observed as well as quantitative comparisons with fluid and hybrid simulations of Mercury's magnetosphere for this encounter. The magnetosphere was not as dynamic for MESSENGER's first encounter as it was for the comparable Mariner 10 encounter I. The MESSENGER trajectory passed through the system from the nightside dusk flank, across midnight near the planet, and through the bow shock in the morning sector. The inbound shock crossing was typical of flank shocks at smaller obstacles, but there was a prolonged period of intense magnetic turbulence in the sheath prior to the magnetopause crossing, including multiple flux rope signatures. The inbound magnetopause transit occurred near the center of the tail and included structures indicative of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability at the flank magnetopause. Multiple inclusions of proton plasmas were found close to the planet. Three distinct transitions were observed on the outbound trajectory. The first is attributed to an outer layer of solar wind plasma within the magnetosphere. This was followed by a well-defined magnetopause and subsequently by an encounter with a shock displaying many features of a dynamic re-formation typical of quasi- parallel shocks.

  15. Method and apparatus for monitoring mercury emissions

    DOEpatents

    Durham, Michael D.; Schlager, Richard J.; Sappey, Andrew D.; Sagan, Francis J.; Marmaro, Roger W.; Wilson, Kevin G.

    1997-01-01

    A mercury monitoring device that continuously monitors the total mercury concentration in a gas. The device uses the same chamber for converting speciated mercury into elemental mercury and for measurement of the mercury in the chamber by radiation absorption techniques. The interior of the chamber is resistant to the absorption of speciated and elemental mercury at the operating temperature of the chamber.

  16. Method and apparatus for monitoring mercury emissions

    DOEpatents

    Durham, M.D.; Schlager, R.J.; Sappey, A.D.; Sagan, F.J.; Marmaro, R.W.; Wilson, K.G.

    1997-10-21

    A mercury monitoring device that continuously monitors the total mercury concentration in a gas. The device uses the same chamber for converting speciated mercury into elemental mercury and for measurement of the mercury in the chamber by radiation absorption techniques. The interior of the chamber is resistant to the absorption of speciated and elemental mercury at the operating temperature of the chamber. 15 figs.

  17. Migration of icy planetesimals to forming terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ipatov, Sergei I.; Marov, Mikhail

    2016-07-01

    Our studies of migration of planetesimals from the feeding zone of Jupiter and Saturn to forming terrestrial planets were based on computer simulations of the orbital evolution of 10^4 planetesimals under the gravitational influence of planets. In series JN, all planets were considered in present orbits with present masses, and in series JS, Uranus and Neptune were excluded. Initial eccentricities and inclinations of planetesimals were 0.3 and 0.15 rad, respectively. Their initial semi-major axes were between 4.5 and 12 AU. Masses of planets moving in the orbits of the terrestrial planets were equal to present masses of the planets in series JS and JN, and were smaller by a factor of 10 in series JS_{01} and JN_{01}. The obtained results show that the ratio of the fraction of the planetesimals collided with an embryo of the Earth's embryo was about 2\\cdot10^{-6} and 4\\cdot10^{-7} for the mass of the embryo equal to the Earth mass and to 10% of the Earth mass, respectively. We concluded that during the growth of the mass of the Earth's embryo up to a half of the present mass of the Earth, the amount of water delivered to the embryo could be about 30% of all water delivered to the Earth from the feeding zone of Jupiter and Saturn. The total mass of water delivered to the Earth from the feeding zones of the giant planets and beyond these zones could be comparable with the mass of the Earth's oceans. A half of this water could come from the feeding zone of Jupiter and Saturn, and another half from more distant regions. Most of the water that was delivered from the distant regions to the Earth's embryo came when its mass was not small (e.g., was mainly greater than a half of the Earth mass). In series JS, the ratio of the mass of water delivered to a planet to the mass of the planet for the Earth was smaller by a factor of 2, 1.25, and 1.3 than for Mars, Venus and Mercury, respectively. For series JN, the above values of the factor were equal to 3.4, 0.7 i 0.8. For

  18. MESSENGER observations of transient bursts of energetic electrons in Mercury's magnetosphere.

    PubMed

    Ho, George C; Krimigis, Stamatios M; Gold, Robert E; Baker, Daniel N; Slavin, James A; Anderson, Brian J; Korth, Haje; Starr, Richard D; Lawrence, David J; McNutt, Ralph L; Solomon, Sean C

    2011-09-30

    The MESSENGER spacecraft began detecting energetic electrons with energies greater than 30 kilo-electron volts (keV) shortly after its insertion into orbit about Mercury. In contrast, no energetic protons were observed. The energetic electrons arrive as bursts lasting from seconds to hours and are most intense close to the planet, distributed in latitude from the equator to the north pole, and present at most local times. Energies can exceed 200 keV but often exhibit cutoffs near 100 keV. Angular distributions of the electrons about the magnetic field suggest that they do not execute complete drift paths around the planet. This set of characteristics demonstrates that Mercury's weak magnetic field does not support Van Allen-type radiation belts, unlike all other planets in the solar system with internal magnetic fields. PMID:21960629

  19. Landslides on Earth, Mars, Moon and Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brunetti, Maria Teresa; Xiao, Zhiyong; Komatsu, Goro; Peruccacci, Silvia; Fiorucci, Federica; Cardinali, Mauro; Santangelo, Michele; Guzzetti, Fausto

    2015-04-01

    Landslides play an important role in the evolution of landscapes on Earth and on other solid planets of the Solar System. On Earth, landslides have been recognized in all continents, and in subaerial and submarine environments. The spatial and temporal range of the observed slope failures is extremely large on Earth. Surface gravity is the main factor driving landslides in solid planets. Comparison of landslide characteristics, e.g. the landslide types and sizes (area, volume, fall height, length) on various planetary bodies may help in understanding the effect of surface gravity on failure initiation and propagation. In the last decades, planetary exploration missions have delivered an increasing amount of high-resolution imagery, which enables to resolve and identify morphologic structures on planetary surfaces in great detail. Here, we present three geomorphological inventories of extraterrestrial landslides on Mars, Moon and Mercury. To recognize and map the landslides on the three Solar System bodies, we adopt the same visual criteria commonly used by geomorphologists to identify terrestrial slope failures in aerial photographs or satellite images. Landslides are classified based on the morphological similarity with terrestrial ones. In particular, we focus on rock slides mapped in Valles Marineris, Mars, and along the internal walls of impact craters on the Moon and Mercury. We exploit the three inventories to study the statistical distributions of the failure sizes (e.g., area, volume, fall height, length), and we compare the results with similar distributions obtained for terrestrial landslides. We obtain indications on the effect of the different surface gravity on landslides on Earth and Mars through the relationship between the landslide area and volume on the two planets. From the analysis of the area, we hypothesize that the lack of medium size landslides on Mars is due to the absence of erosive processes, which are induced on Earth chiefly by water

  20. Crestal graben associated with lobate scarps on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vaughan, Rubio; Foing, Bernard; van Westrenen, Wim

    2014-05-01

    of Geophysical Research: Planets (2013). [3] Klimczak, Christian, et al. "Deformation associated with ghost craters and basins in volcanic smooth plains on Mercury: Strain analysis and implications for plains evolution." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991-2012) 117.E9 (2012). [4] Watters, Thomas R., et al. "Extension and contraction within volcanically buried impact craters and basins on Mercury." Geology 40.12 (2012): 1123-1126.

  1. Watching How Planets Form

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2006-09-01

    Anatomy of a Planet-Forming Disc around a Star More Massive than the Sun With the VISIR instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have mapped the disc around a star more massive than the Sun. The very extended and flared disc most likely contains enough gas and dust to spawn planets. It appears as a precursor of debris discs such as the one around Vega-like stars and thus provides the rare opportunity to witness the conditions prevailing prior to or during planet formation. "Planets form in massive, gaseous and dusty proto-planetary discs that surround nascent stars. This process must be rather ubiquitous as more than 200 planets have now been found around stars other than the Sun," said Pierre-Olivier Lagage, from CEA Saclay (France) and leader of the team that carried out the observations. "However, very little is known about these discs, especially those around stars more massive than the Sun. Such stars are much more luminous and could have a large influence on their disc, possibly quickly destroying the inner part." The astronomers used the VISIR instrument [1] on ESO's Very Large Telescope to map in the infrared the disc surrounding the young star HD 97048. With an age of a few million years [2], HD 97048 belongs to the Chameleon I dark cloud, a stellar nursery 600 light-years away. The star is 40 times more luminous than our Sun and is 2.5 times as massive. The astronomers could only have achieved such a detailed view due to the high angular resolution offered by an 8-metre size telescope in the infrared, reaching a resolution of 0.33 arcsecond. They discovered a very large disc, at least 12 times more extended than the orbit of the farthest planet in the Solar System, Neptune. The observations suggest the disc to be flared. "This is the first time such a structure, predicted by some theoretical models, is imaged around a massive star," said Lagage. ESO PR Photo 36/06 ESO PR Photo 36/06 A Flared Proto-Planetary Disc Such a geometry can only be

  2. Mercury's Thermal Evolution, Dynamical Topography and Geoid

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ziethe, Ruth; Benkhoff, Johannes

    Among the terrestrial planets Mercury is not only the smallest, but also the densest (after correction for self-compression). To explain Mercury's high density it is considered likely that the planet's mantle was removed during a giant impact event, when proto-Mercury was already differentiated into an iron core and a silicate mantle. Beside the damage to the planet's mantle the vaporization would cause a significant loss of volatile elements, leaving the remaining planet molten and dominated by extremely refractory material.Since the arrival of a spacecraft at the enigmatic planet is not to be expected before 2011 (Messenger) or 2019 (BepiColombo) we might already prepare ourselves for the upcoming results and perform tests that allow some anticipation of the measured data. The hermean mantle is modelled as an internally and bottom heated, isochemical fluid in a spherical shell. The principle of this convection model is widely accepted and is used for various models of thermal evolution of terrestrial planets, e.g., the Earth, Mars or the Moon. We are solving the hydrodynamical equations, derived from the conservation of mass, momentum and energy. A program originally written by S. Zhang is used to solve the temperature field which employs a combination of a spectral and a finite difference method. Beside the large core as a heat source 'from below' the decay of radioactive isotopes provides internal heating of the hermean mantle. The viscosity of the mantel material depends exponentially on the inverse temperature. The model results show the typical behaviour of a one-plate-planet, meaning the surface is not broken into several tectonic plates but the outside is a single rigid shell. The thermal evolution is generally charaterized by the growth of a massive lithosphere on top of the convecting mantle. The lower mantle and core cool comparatively little and stay at temperatures between 1900K and 2000K until about 2.0Ga after the simulation was started. The

  3. Semi-volatiles at Mercury: Sodium (Na) and potassium (K)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sprague, A.

    1994-01-01

    Several lines of evidence now suggest that Mercury is a planet rich in moderately-volatile elements such as Na and K. Recent mid-infrared spectral observations of Mercury's equatorial and mid-latitude region near 120 degrees mercurian longitude indicate the presence of plagioclase feldspar. Spectra of Mercury's surface exhibit spectral activity similar to labradorite (plagioclase feldspar with NaAlSi3O8: 30-50 percent) and bytownite (NaAlSi3O8: 10-30 percent). These surface studies were stimulated by the relatively large abundance of Na and K observed in Mercury's atmosphere. An enhanced column of K is observed at the longitudes of Caloris Basin and of the antipodal terrain. Extreme heating at these 'hot' longitudes and severe fracturing suffered from the large impact event could lead to enhanced outgassing from surface or subsurface materials. Alternatively, sputtering from a surface enriched in K could be the source of the observed enhancement. Recent microwave measurements of Mercury also give indirect evidence of a mercurian regolith less FeO-rich than the Moon. An anomalously high index of refraction derived from the whole-disk integrated phase curve of Danjon may also be indicative of surface sulfides contributing to a regolith that is moderately volatile-rich. The recent exciting observations of radar-bright spots at high latitudes also indicate that a substance of high volume scattering, like ice, is present in shadowed regions. Other radar-bright spots have been seen at locations of Na enhancements on the atmosphere. All combined, these pieces of evidence point to a planet that is not severely depleted in volatiles or semi-volatiles.

  4. GEOCHEMICAL FACTORS GOVERNING METHYL MERCURY PRODUCTION IN MERCURY CONTAMINATED SEDIMENTS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Bench scale experiments were conducted to improve our understanding of aquatic mercury transformation processes (biotic and abiotic), specifically those factors which govern the production of methyl mercury (MeHg) in sedimentary environments. The greatest cause for concern regar...

  5. Atmospheres of Extrasolar Giant Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Marley, Mark

    2006-01-01

    The next decade will almost certainly see the direct imaging of extrasolar giant planets around nearby stars. Unlike purely radial velocity detections, direct imaging will open the door to characterizing the atmosphere and interiors of extrasola planets and ultimately provide clues on their formation and evolution through time. This process has already begun for the transiting planets, placing new constraints on their atmospheric structure, composition, and evolution. Indeed the key to understanding giant planet detectability, interpreting spectra, and constraining effective temperature and hence evolution-is the atmosphere. I will review the universe of extrasolar giant planet models, focusing on what we have already learned from modeling and what we will likely be able to learn from the first generation of direct detection data. In addition to these theoretical considerations, I will review the observations and interpretation of the - transiting hot Jupiters. These objects provide a test of our ability to model exotic atmospheres and challenge our current understanding of giant planet evolution.

  6. Debris Disks and Hidden Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kuchner, Marc

    2008-01-01

    When a planet orbits inside a debris disk like the disk around Vega or Beta Pictoris, the planet may be invisible, but the patterns it creates in the disk may give it away. Observing and decoding these patterns may be the only way we can detect exo-Neptunes orbiting more than 20 AU from their stars, and the only way we can spot planets in systems undergoing the late stages of planet formation. Fortunately, every few months, a new image of a debris disk appears with curious structures begging for explanation. I'll describe some new ideas in the theory of these planet-disk interactions and provide a buyers guide to the latest models (and the planets they predict).

  7. Planets Suitable for Life

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Peter, Ulmschneider

    When searching for extraterrestrial life, and particularly intelligent life, elsewhere in the solar system or in our galaxy, the obvious places to look are habitable Earth-like planets. This is because most living organisms are quite vulnerable to harsh conditions, and thus the presence of life will be most likely when very favorable conditions occur. Here organisms that survive under extreme conditions on Earth represent no contradiction, because they have adapted to their way of life by the fierce battle of survival on the basis of Darwin's theory (discussed in Chap. 6). But what are the conditions that are favorable for life?

  8. Spinning Stardust into Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2001-01-01

    A computerized animation simulates the formation of a stellar disk and planets. Ten images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) show young stellar disks (taken with the Near-Infrared Camera Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS)) and stellar disks around young stars (taken with the Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2)). Dr. Deborah Padgett describes what astronomers see in the images of young stellar disks and Dr. Karl Stapelfeldt explains HST's role in helping astronomers to examine young stars in order to understand how solar systems like our own may form.

  9. Constraining Mercury's interior structure with geodesy data and its present thermal state

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rivoldini, Attilio; Van Hoolst, Tim; Noack, Lena

    2015-04-01

    Recent measurements of Mercury's spin state and gravitational field supplemented by the assumption that the planet's core is made of iron and sulfur give strong constraints on its interior structure. In particular, they allow a precise determination of Mercury's core size and average mantle density. Present geodesy data do, however, almost not constrain the size of the inner core. Interior structure models with a fully molten liquid core as well as models with an inner core almost as large as the core agree with the observations. Additionally, the observed internally generated magnetic field of Mercury does not preclude the absence of an inner core, since remelting of iron snow inside the core could produce a sufficient buoyancy flux to drive magnetic field generation by compositional convection. Although sulfur is ubiquitously invoked as being the principal candidate light element in terrestrial planet's cores its abundance in the core depends on the redox conditions during planetary formation. Remote sensing data of Mercury's surface by MESSENGER indicate that Mercury formed under reducing conditions. As a consequence, substantial amounts of other light elements like for example silicon and carbon could be present together with sulfur inside Mercury's core. Compared to sulfur, which does almost not partition into solid iron at Mercury's core conditions, silicon partitions almost equally well between solid and liquid iron whereas a few percent of carbon can partition into solid iron. Therefore, compared to a pure iron-sulfur core, if silicon and carbon are present in the core the density jump at the inner-core outer-core boundary could be smaller and induce a large enough change in the inner-core flattening to alter Mercury's libration amplitude. Moreover, the presence of carbon together with sulfur further reduces the core solidus temperature, potentially delaying the onset of inner core formation. Finally, if both silicon and sulfur are present in sufficient

  10. Mercury pollution in Malaysia.

    PubMed

    Hajeb, Parvaneh; Jinap, S; Ismail, Ahmad; Mahyudin, Nor Ainy

    2012-01-01

    Although several studies have been published on levels of mercury contamination of the environment, and of food and human tissues in Peninsular Malaysia, there is a serious dearth of research that has been performed in East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak). Industry is rapidly developing in East Malaysia, and, hence, there is a need for establishing baseline levels of mercury contamination in environmental media in that part of the country by performing monitoring studies. Residues of total mercury and inorganic in food samples have been determined in nearly all previous studies that have been conducted; however, few researchers have analyzed samples for the presence of methlymercury residues. Because methylmercury is the most toxic form of mercury, and because there is a growing public awareness of the risk posed by methylmercury exposure that is associated with fish and seafood consumption, further monitoring studies on methylmercury in food are also essential. From the results of previous studies, it is obvious that the economic development in Malaysia, in recent years, has affected the aquatic environment of the country. Primary areas of environmental concern are centered on the rivers of the west Peninsular Malaysian coast, and the coastal waters of the Straits of Malacca, wherein industrial activities are rapidly expanding. The sources of existing mercury input to both of these areas of Malaysia should be studied and identified. Considering the high levels of mercury that now exists in human tissues, efforts should be continued, and accelerated in the future, if possible, to monitor mercury contamination levels in the coastal states, and particularly along the west Peninsular Malaysian coast. Most studies that have been carried out on mercury residues in environmental samples are dated, having been conducted 20-30 years ago; therefore, the need to collect much more and more current data is urgent. Furthermore, establishing baseline levels of mercury exposure to

  11. Planets in Evolved Binary Systems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perets, Hagai B.

    2011-03-01

    Exo-planets are typically thought to form in protoplanetary disks left over from protostellar disk of their newly formed host star. However, additional planetary formation and evolution routes may exist in old evolved binary systems. Here we discuss the implications of binary stellar evolution on planetary systems in such environments. In these binary systems stellar evolution could lead to the formation of symbiotic stars, where mass is lost from one star and could be transferred to its binary companion, and may form an accretion disk around it. This raises the possibility that such a disk could provide the necessary environment for the formation of a new, second generation of planets in both circumstellar or circumbinary configurations. Pre-existing first generation planets surviving the post-MS evolution of such systems would be dynamically effected by the mass loss in the systems and may also interact with the newly formed disk. Such planets and/or planetesimals may also serve as seeds for the formation of the second generation planets, and/or interact with them, possibly forming atypical planetary systems. Second generation planetary systems should be typically found in white dwarf binary systems, and may show various observational signatures. Most notably, second generation planets could form in environment which are inaccessible, or less favorable, for first generation planets. The orbital phase space available for the second generation planets could be forbidden (in terms of the system stability) to first generation planets in the pre-evolved progenitor binaries. In addition planets could form in metal poor environments such as globular clusters and/or in double compact object binaries. Observations of exo-planets in such forbidden or unfavorable regions could possibly serve to uniquely identify their second generation character. Finally, we point out a few observed candidate second generation planetary systems, including Gl 86, HD 27442 and all of the

  12. NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder Missions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Coulter, Daniel R.

    2004-01-01

    NASA has decided to move forward with two complementary Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) missions, a visible coronagraph and an infrared formation flying interferometer. These missions are major missions in the NASA Office of Space Science Origins Theme. The primary science objectives of the TPF missions are to search for, detect, and characterize planets and planetary systems beyond our own Solar System, including specifically Earth-like planets.

  13. Planet X - Fact or fiction?

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Anderson, John

    1988-01-01

    The search for a possible tenth planet in our solar system is examined. The history of the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are reviewed. Searches of the sky with telescopes and theoretical studies of the gravitational influences on the orbits of known objects in the solar system are discussed. Information obtained during the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions which could suggest the presence of an undiscovered planet and computer simulations of the possible orbit of a tenth planet are presented.

  14. Starting a Planet Protectors Club

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    US Environmental Protection Agency, 2007

    2007-01-01

    If your mission is to teach children how to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste and create the next generation of Planet Protectors, perhaps leading a Planet Protectors Club is part of your future challenges. You don't have to be an expert in waste reduction and recycling to lead a a Planet Protectors Club. You don't even have to be a teacher. You do…

  15. Planet X - ract or fiction

    SciTech Connect

    Anderson, J.

    1988-08-01

    The search for a possible tenth planet in our solar system is examined. The history of the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are reviewed. Searches of the sky with telescopes and theoretical studies of the gravitational influences on the orbits of known objects in the solar system are discussed. Information obtained during the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions which could suggest the presence of an undiscovered planet and computer simulations of the possible orbit of a tenth planet are presented.

  16. Mars, Moon, Mercury: Magnetometry Constrains Planetary Evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Connerney, John E. P.

    2015-04-01

    We have long appreciated that magnetic measurements obtained about a magnetized planet are of great value in probing the deep interior. The existence of a substantial planetary magnetic field implies dynamo action requiring an electrically conducting, fluid core in convective motion and a source of energy to maintain it. Application of the well-known Lowe's spectrum may in some cases identify the dynamo outer radius; where secular variation can be measured, the outer radius can be estimated using the frozen flux approximation. Magnetic induction may be used to probe the electrical conductivity of the mantle and crust. These are useful constraints that together with gravity and/or other observables we may infer the state of the interior and gain insight into planetary evolution. But only recently has it become clear that space magnetometry can do much more, particularly about a planet that once sustained a dynamo that has since disappeared. Mars is the best example of this class: the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft globally mapped a remanent crustal field left behind after the demise of the dynamo. This map is a magnetic record of the planet's evolution. I will argue that this map may be interpreted to constrain the era of dynamo activity within Mars; to establish the reversal history of the Mars dynamo; to infer the magnetization intensity of Mars crustal rock and the depth of the magnetized crustal layer; and to establish that plate tectonics is not unique to planet Earth, as has so often been claimed. The Lunar magnetic record is in contrast one of weakly magnetized and scattered sources, not easily interpreted as yet in terms of the interior. Magnetometry about Mercury is more difficult to interpret owing to the relatively weak field and proximity to the sun, but MESSENGER (and ultimately Beppi Columbo) may yet map crustal anomalies (induced and/or remanent).

  17. Ordered positions of formation centers of the earth-like planets and moons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferrandez, M. G.; Barkin, Yu. V.; Ferrandiz, J. M.

    2002-10-01

    Elementary empirical analysis of the distribution of the centers of different formations of the Earth-like planets and moons (CPF) leads us to a conclusion about ordered character of their positions. The definite inclined belts of the concentration of the CF, grid phenomenon in their latitudinal and longitudinal distribution, antipodal CF are observed on the surface of the Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Io and other planets and satellites. Here we present some first results of the mathematical-statistical analysis by axography method of the ordered center positions of different formations (montes, dorsa, pateras, albedo features and others) for above-mentioned bodies of the Solar system.

  18. Dynamical Interactions Among Extrasolar Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Laughlin, G.

    For certain multiple planet systems such as GJ 876 and 55 Cancri, which have (1) been observed for a large number of orbital periods, and which (2) have strong planet-planet gravitational interactions, the approximation that the planets are orbiting on independent Keplerian ellipses is inadequate. We discuss the production of self-consistent dynamical fits to these interacting systems, in which a minimization scheme (such as the Levenberg-Marquardt technique, or a Genetic Algorithm) is used to repeatedly drive an N-body integrator and improve the agreement between the integrated reflex motion of the central star and the observed radial velocities.

  19. Determination of mercurous chloride and total mercury in mercury ores

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fahey, J.J.

    1937-01-01

    A method for the determination of mercurous chloride and total mercury on the same sample is described. The mercury minerals are volatilized in a glass tube and brought into intimate contact with granulated sodium carbonate. The chlorine is fixed as sodium chloride, determined with silver nitrate, and computed to mercurous chloride. The mercury is collected on a previously weighed gold coil and weighed.

  20. Biogeochemistry: Better living through mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schaefer, Jeffra K.

    2016-02-01

    Mercury is a toxic element with no known biological function. Laboratory studies demonstrate that mercury can be beneficial to microbial growth by acting as an electron acceptor during photosynthesis.

  1. Planets and Life

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sullivan, Woodruff T., III; Baross, John

    2001-12-01

    Astrobiology involves the study of the origin and history of life on Earth, planets and moons where life may have arisen, and the search for extraterrestrial life. It combines the sciences of biology, chemistry, palaeontology, geology, planetary physics and astronomy. This textbook brings together world experts in each of these disciplines to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the field currently available. Topics cover the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the geological, physical and chemical conditions in which life might arise and the detection of extraterrestrial life on other planets and moons. The book also covers the history of our ideas on extraterrestrial life and the origin of life, as well as the ethical, philosophical and educational issues raised by astrobiology. Written to be accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, this text will be welcomed by advanced undergraduates and graduates who are taking astrobiology courses.• Compiled by world experts in their disciplines to create a truly comprehensive book • Accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds • A welcome addition to this rapidly-growing field

  2. Stars and Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Neta, Miguel

    2014-05-01

    'Estrelas e Planetas' (Stars and Planets) project was developed during the academic year 2009/2010 and was tested on three 3rd grade classes of one school in Quarteira, Portugal. The aim was to encourage the learning of science and the natural and physical phenomena through the construction and manipulation of materials that promote these themes - in this case astronomy. Throughout the project the students built a small book containing three themes of astronomy: differences between stars and planets, the solar system and the phases of the Moon. To each topic was devoted two sessions of about an hour each: the first to teach the theoretical aspects of the theme and the second session to assembly two pages of the book. All materials used (for theoretical sessions and for the construction of the book) and videos of the finished book are available for free use in www.miguelneta.pt/estrelaseplanetas. So far there is only a Portuguese version but soon will be published in English as well. This project won the Excellency Prize 2011 of Casa das Ciências, a portuguese site for teachers supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Fundation (www.casadasciencias.org).

  3. The Planet Venus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Luhmann, Janet

    This book is not so much for the space scientist looking for background material for research as it is for one interested in the history of planetary exploration. The first half (˜100 pps) is devoted to studies of Venus before the space age, starting at several hundred years BC. It is obvious from the multitude of detailed descriptions of observers' accounts that considerable library research went into this section. While sometimes tedious, this chronology of Venus research is punctuated with amusing facts. While many may know about the Velikovsky theory of the cometary origin of the planet, few may know that Lowell drew pictures of Cytherian canals similar to the canals of Mars or that Frederick the Great of Prussia proposed to name the (once suspected) satellite of Venus D'Alembert, after the mathematician. An equally amusing appendix shows the ups and downs of the rotation period of this planet with the invisible surface. Much attention is focused on early telescope observations, the ashen light, and transits of Venus. At the end of this half, one appreciates that Venus has played a fairly important role in history in the areas of religion, science, and technology.

  4. The Giant Planet Jupiter

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rogers, John H.

    2009-07-01

    Part I. Observing Jupiter: 1. Observations from Earth; 2. Observations from spacecraft; Part II. The Visible Structure of the Atmosphere: 3. Horizontal structure: belts, currents, spots and storms; 4. Vertical structure: colours and clouds; Part III. The Observational Record of the Atmosphere: 5. The Polar Region; 6. North North Temperate Regions (57°N to 35°N); 7. North Temperate Region (35°N to 23°N); 8. North Tropical Region (23°N to 9°N); 9. Equatorial Region (9°N to 9°S); 10. South Tropical Region (9°S to 27°S); 11. South Temperate Region (27°S to 37°S); 12. South South Temperate Region (37°S to 53°S); Part IV: The Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere: 13. Possible large-scale and long-term patterns; 14. The dynamics of individual spots; 15. Theoretical models of the atmosphere; 16. The composition of the planet; Part V. The Electrodynamic Environment of Jupiter: 17. Lights in the Jovian night; 18. The magnetosphere and radiation belts; Part VI. The Satellites: 19. The inner satellites and the ring; 20. The Galilean satellites; 21. Io; 22. Europa; 23. Ganymede; 24. Callisto; 25. The outer satellites; Appendices: 1. Measurement of longitude; 2. Measurement of latitude; 3. Lists of apparitions and published reports; 4. Bibliography (The planet); 5. Bibliography (The magnetosphere and satellites); Index.

  5. Magnetosphere Environment from Solar System Planets/Moons to Exoplanets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alexeev, Igor I.; Grygoryan, Maria S.; Belenkaya, Elena S.; Kalegaev, Vladimir V.; Khodachenko, Maxim

    First we discuss the solar wind plasma interaction with the Solar System planets that have intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn are discussed. As a result of such an interaction cavities, which are free from the solar wind plasma and occupied by the planetary magnetic field are created. These cavities are usually called magnetospheres are surrounded and bound by the magnetopause. The magnetopause preserved the planetary magnetic field penetration into the magnetosheath so that its impossible for the magnetosheath plasma flow to penetrate into the magnetosphere. The magnetosheath are placed between the bow shock and the magnetopause. The bow shock forms a boundary against the unshocked super Alvénic plasma flow. As demonstrated by the analysis of the Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn magnetopauses, these surfaces can be well described by a paraboloid of revolution with different subsolar distances and flaring angles. Based on this fact an universal model of the planetary magnetosphere can be constructed. We chose the planets in the inner magnetospheres of which the magnetic field vectors have been measured by orbiting spacecraft magnetometers. The proposed models describe the basic physical processes that are responsible for the structure and dynamics of the planetary magnetospheres. Additionally to the inner planetary field the different magnetospheric sources of magnetic field are included in the model. Finally, we discuss how these magnetosphere models can be applied to exoplanets in a comparative way.

  6. Merging of the USGS Atlas of Mercury 1:5,000,000 Geologic Series

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Frigeri, A.; Federico, C.; Pauselli, C.; Coradini, A.

    2008-01-01

    After 30 years, the planet Mercury is going to give us new information. The NASA MESSENGER [1] already made its first successful flyby on December 2007 while the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency ISAS/JAXA are preparing the upcoming mission BepiColombo [2]. In order to contribute to current and future analyses on the geology of Mercury, we have started to work on the production of a single digital geologic map of Mercury derived from the merging process of the geologic maps of the Atlas of Mercury, produced by the United States Geological Survey, based on Mariner 10 data. The aim of this work is to merge the nine maps so that the final product reflects as much as possible the original work. Herein we describe the data we used, the working environment and the steps made for producing the final map.

  7. Convection and plate tectonics on extrasolar planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sotin, C.; Grasset, O.; Schubert, G.

    2012-04-01

    The number of potential Earth-like exoplanets is still very limited compared to the overall number of detected exoplanets. But the different methods keep improving, giving hope for this number to increase significantly in the coming years. Based on the relationship between mass and radius, two of the easiest parameters that can be known for exoplanets, four categories of planets have been identified: (i) the gas giants including hot Jupiters, (ii) the icy giants that can be like their solar system cousins Uranus and Neptune or that can have lost their H2-He atmosphere and have become the so-called ocean planets, (iii) the Earth-like planets with a fraction of silicates and iron similar to that of the Earth, and (iv) the Mercury like planet that have a much larger fraction of iron. The hunt for exoplanets is very much focused on Earth-like planets because of the desire to find alien forms of life and the science goal to understand how life started and developed on Earth. One science question is whether heat transfer by subsolidus convection can lead to plate tectonics, a process that allows material to be recycled in the interior on timescales of hundreds of millions of years. Earth-like exoplanets may have conditions quite different from Earth. For example, COROT-7b is so close to its star that it is likely locked in synchronous orbit with one very hot hemisphere and one very cold hemisphere. It is also worth noting that among the three Earth-like planets of the solar system (Earth, Venus and Mars), only Earth is subject to plate tectonics at present time. Venus may have experienced plate tectonics before the resurfacing event that erased any clue that such a process existed. This study investigates some of the parameters that can influence the transition from stagnant-lid convection to mobile-lid convection. Numerical simulations of convective heat transfer have been performed in 3D spherical geometry in order to determine the stress field generated by convection

  8. KOI-3158: The oldest known system of terrestrial-size planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Campante, T. L.; Barclay, T.; Swift, J. J.; Huber, D.; Adibekyan, V. Zh.; Cochran, W.; Burke, C. J.; Isaacson, H.; Quintana, E. V.; Davies, G. R.; Silva Aguirre, V.; Ragozzine, D.; Riddle, R.; Baranec, C.; Basu, S.; Chaplin, W. J.; Christensen-Dalsgaard, J.; Metcalfe, T. S.; Bedding, T. R.; Handberg, R.; Stello, D.; Brewer, J. M.; Hekker, S.; Karoff, C.; Kolbl, R.; Law, N. M.; Lundkvist, M.; Miglio, A.; Rowe, J. F.; Santos, N. C.; Van Laerhoven, C.; Arentoft, T.; Elsworth, Y. P.; Fischer, D. A.; Kawaler, S. D.; Kjeldsen, H.; Lund, M. N.; Marcy, G. W.; Sousa, S. G.; Sozzetti, A.; White, T. R.

    2015-09-01

    The first discoveries of exoplanets around Sun-like stars have fueled efforts to find ever smaller worlds evocative of Earth and other terrestrial planets in the Solar System. While gas-giant planets appear to form preferentially around metal-rich stars, small planets (with radii less than four Earth radii) can form under a wide range of metallicities. This implies that small, including Earth-size, planets may have readily formed at earlier epochs in the Universe's history when metals were far less abundant. We report Kepler spacecraft observations of KOI-3158, a metal-poor Sun-like star from the old population of the Galactic thick disk, which hosts five planets with sizes between Mercury and Venus. We used asteroseismology to directly measure a precise age of 11.2 ± 1.0 Gyr for the host star, indicating that KOI-3158 formed when the Universe was less than 20 % of its current age and making it the oldest known system of terrestrial-size planets. We thus show that Earth-size planets have formed throughout most of the Universe's 13.8-billion-year history, providing scope for the existence of ancient life in the Galaxy.

  9. Moon-Mercury: Relative preservation states of secondary craters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Scott, D.H.

    1977-01-01

    Geologic mapping of the Kuiper quadrangle of Mercury and other geologic studies of the planet indicate that secondary craters are much better preserved than those on the moon around primary craters of similar size and morphology. Among the oldest recognized secondary craters on the moon associated with craters 100 km across or less are those of Posidonius, Atlas and Plato; these craters have been dated as middle to late Imbrian in age. Many craters on Mercury with dimensions, morphologies and superposed crater densities similar to these lunar craters have fields and clusters of fresher appearing secondary craters. The apparent differences between secondary-crater morphology and parent crater may be due in part to: (1) rapid isostatic adjustment of the parent crater; (2) different impact fluxes between the two planets; and (or) (3) to the greater concentration of Mercurian secondaries around impact areas, thereby accentuating crater forms. Another factor which may contribute to the better state of preservation of Mercurian secondaries relative to the moon is the difference in crater ejecta velocities on both bodies. These velocities have been calculated for fields of secondary craters at about equal ranges from lunar and Mercurian parent craters. Results show that ejection velocities of material producing most of the secondary craters are rather low (<1 km/s) but velocities on Mercury are about 50% greater than those on the moon for equivalent ranges. Higher velocities may produce morphologically enhanced secondary craters which may account for their better preservation with time. ?? 1977.

  10. MESSENGER at Mercury: A mid-term report

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bedini, Peter D.; Solomon, Sean C.; Finnegan, Eric J.; Calloway, Andrew B.; Ensor, Susan L.; McNutt, Ralph L.; Anderson, Brian J.; Prockter, Louise M.

    2012-12-01

    After almost 5 years in development and more than 6 and a half years in cruise toward its destination, NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft finally entered orbit about Mercury on 18 March 2011, initiating a 1-year, focused investigation of the innermost planet. Operating from a highly eccentric orbit designed to keep the spacecraft safe and to facilitate the required observations, MESSENGER is using its payload of seven instruments and the spacecraft's radio-frequency telecommunications system to characterize the planet's interior, surface, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. The demands of the many measurements needed to meet the program objectives, coupled with the constraints associated with spacecraft safety and the orbital geometry, led to the adoption of an automated science-planning tool to optimize science data collection. The tool was used to design the entire year of observations prior to orbit insertion and has the capability of regenerating the plan quickly in response to anomalies in flight (e.g., spacecraft safe-mode demotions) or on the ground (e.g., missed Deep Space Network tracks). Because one Earth year spans two Mercury solar days, there are two opportunities in the course of MESSENGER's science data-collection campaign to observe any specific location on the planet with a given viewing geometry. To take advantage of this schedule, the science plan was divided into two parts. During the first solar day, priority was given to producing global map products. The second day will be used to focus on specific targets and to recover observations missed during the first half of the year. Also, complementary observations can be made in the second day that, when paired with results from the first day, form a stereo map. Although only midway through the orbital operations phase of the mission, MESSENGER had, at the end of the first Mercury solar day, already viewed the entire surface of the planet once and

  11. Inside-out Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chatterjee, Sourav; Tan, Jonathan C.

    2014-01-01

    The compact multi-transiting planet systems discovered by Kepler challenge planet formation theories. Formation in situ from disks with radial mass surface density, Σ, profiles similar to the minimum mass solar nebula but boosted in normalization by factors >~ 10 has been suggested. We propose that a more natural way to create these planets in the inner disk is formation sequentially from the inside-out via creation of successive gravitationally unstable rings fed from a continuous stream of small (~cm-m size) "pebbles," drifting inward via gas drag. Pebbles collect at the pressure maximum associated with the transition from a magnetorotational instability (MRI)-inactive ("dead zone") region to an inner MRI-active zone. A pebble ring builds up until it either becomes gravitationally unstable to form an ~1 M ⊕ planet directly or induces gradual planet formation via core accretion. The planet may undergo Type I migration into the active region, allowing a new pebble ring and planet to form behind it. Alternatively, if migration is inefficient, the planet may continue to accrete from the disk until it becomes massive enough to isolate itself from the accretion flow. A variety of densities may result depending on the relative importance of residual gas accretion as the planet approaches its isolation mass. The process can repeat with a new pebble ring gathering at the new pressure maximum associated with the retreating dead-zone boundary. Our simple analytical model for this scenario of inside-out planet formation yields planetary masses, relative mass scalings with orbital radius, and minimum orbital separations consistent with those seen by Kepler. It provides an explanation of how massive planets can form with tightly packed and well-aligned system architectures, starting from typical protoplanetary disk properties.

  12. Inside-out planet formation

    SciTech Connect

    Chatterjee, Sourav; Tan, Jonathan C. E-mail: jt@astro.ufl.edu

    2014-01-01

    The compact multi-transiting planet systems discovered by Kepler challenge planet formation theories. Formation in situ from disks with radial mass surface density, Σ, profiles similar to the minimum mass solar nebula but boosted in normalization by factors ≳ 10 has been suggested. We propose that a more natural way to create these planets in the inner disk is formation sequentially from the inside-out via creation of successive gravitationally unstable rings fed from a continuous stream of small (∼cm-m size) 'pebbles', drifting inward via gas drag. Pebbles collect at the pressure maximum associated with the transition from a magnetorotational instability (MRI)-inactive ('dead zone') region to an inner MRI-active zone. A pebble ring builds up until it either becomes gravitationally unstable to form an ∼1 M {sub ⊕} planet directly or induces gradual planet formation via core accretion. The planet may undergo Type I migration into the active region, allowing a new pebble ring and planet to form behind it. Alternatively, if migration is inefficient, the planet may continue to accrete from the disk until it becomes massive enough to isolate itself from the accretion flow. A variety of densities may result depending on the relative importance of residual gas accretion as the planet approaches its isolation mass. The process can repeat with a new pebble ring gathering at the new pressure maximum associated with the retreating dead-zone boundary. Our simple analytical model for this scenario of inside-out planet formation yields planetary masses, relative mass scalings with orbital radius, and minimum orbital separations consistent with those seen by Kepler. It provides an explanation of how massive planets can form with tightly packed and well-aligned system architectures, starting from typical protoplanetary disk properties.

  13. Student Exposure to Mercury Vapors.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Weber, Joyce

    1986-01-01

    Discusses the problem of mercury vapors caused by spills in high school and college laboratories. Describes a study which compared the mercury vapor levels of laboratories in both an older and a newer building. Concludes that the mercurial contamination of chemistry laboratories presents minimal risks to the students. (TW)

  14. ATMOSPHERIC MERCURY TRANSPORT AND DEPOSITION

    EPA Science Inventory

    The current state of our scientific understanding the mercury cycle tells us that most of the mercury getting into fish comes from atmospheric deposition, but methylation of that mercury in aquatic systems is required for the concentrations in fish to reach harmful levels. We st...

  15. MERCURY IN MARINE LIFE DATABASE

    EPA Science Inventory

    The purpose of the Mercury in Marine Life Project is to organize information on estuarine and marine species so that EPA can better understand both the extent of monitoring for mercury and level of mercury contamination in the biota of coastal environments. This report follows a ...

  16. Interior models of Mercury with equatorial ellipticity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dumberry, M.

    2012-09-01

    The combination of planetary rotation observations and gravity field measurements by the MESSENGER spacecraft can be used to constrain the internal structure of Mercury. A recently published model suggests a mean mantle density of ρm = 3650 ± 225 kg m-3, substantially larger than that expected of a silicate mantle (3300 kg m-3) and possibly hinting at the presence of an FeS-rich layer at the base of the mantle. Here, we show that a large ρm is only required if the core-mantle boundary (CMB) of the planet is assumed axially-symmetric. An equatorial ellipticity of CMB of the order of 2 · 10-5 allows to satisfy gravity and rotation constraints with a mean mantle density typical of silicate material. Possible origin of such topography include past mantle convection, aspherical planetary shrinking, remnant tidal deformation, or a combination thereof.

  17. Thermal control materials in Mercury environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Antonenko, J.

    2003-09-01

    Thermal control materials are under development concerning the BepiColombo mission to the planet Mercury. The vicinity to the sun creates extreme heat and radiation fluxes and, advanced materials are needed. A Multi-Layer Insulation has been developed able to withstand the high temperatures and particle fluxes. Upilex has been preferred to Kapton for the reflective screens of the MLI and Tissue Glass is used as a spacer. On sunlit surfaces a sun shield will be added to the MLI employing a ceramic fabric. Further developments for application on external surfaces are a Solar Reflector Coating and an Optical Surface Reflector. An Infrared Rejection Device will be applied within the entrance port of nadir pointing instruments and serve as a protective element to reflect or absorb the planetary infra-red radiation. This paper presents the current status in the development of the thermal insulation and the other thermal control materials. The materials selection and available test results are presented.

  18. Sensing Mercury for Biomedical and Environmental Monitoring

    PubMed Central

    Selid, Paul D.; Xu, Hanying; Collins, E. Michael; Face-Collins, Marla Striped; Zhao, Julia Xiaojun

    2009-01-01

    Mercury is a very toxic element that is widely spread in the atmosphere, lithosphere, and surface water. Concentrated mercury poses serious problems to human health, as bioaccumulation of mercury within the brain and kidneys ultimately leads to neurological diseases. To control mercury pollution and reduce mercury damage to human health, sensitive determination of mercury is important. This article summarizes some current sensors for the determination of both abiotic and biotic mercury. A wide array of sensors for monitoring mercury is described, including biosensors and chemical sensors, while piezoelectric and microcantilever sensors are also described. Additionally, newly developed nanomaterials offer great potential for fabricating novel mercury sensors. Some of the functional fluorescent nanosensors for the determination of mercury are covered. Afterwards, the in vivo determination of mercury and the characterization of different forms of mercury are discussed. Finally, the future direction for mercury detection is outlined, suggesting that nanomaterials may provide revolutionary tools in biomedical and environmental monitoring of mercury. PMID:22346707

  19. The Exploration of Mercury by MESSENGER: Looking Ahead to Orbital Observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Solomon, S. C.; McNutt, R. L.; Bedini, P. D.; Anderson, B. J.; Prockter, L. M.; Blewett, D. T.; Evans, L. G.; Gold, R. E.; Krimigis, S. M.; Murchie, S. L.; Nittler, L. R.; Phillips, R. J.; Slavin, J. A.; Zuber, M. T.

    2010-12-01

    NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft flew by Mercury three times in 2008-09 en route to insertion into orbit about the planet in March 2011. The flybys confirmed that the planet's internal magnetic field is dominantly dipolar, with a vector moment closely aligned with the spin axis. MESSENGER detected Mg and Ca+ in Mercury’s exosphere, demonstrated that Mercury's anti-sunward neutral tail contains multiple species, and revealed that exospheric Na, Ca, and Mg vary differently with space and time, signatures of multiple source processes. MESSENGER's laser altimeter showed that the equatorial topographic relief of Mercury exceeds 5 km, revealed an equatorial ellipticity aligned with the ellipticity in Mercury's gravitational potential, and profiled numerous impact craters and fault scarps. MESSENGER images provided evidence for widespread volcanism, and candidate sites for volcanic centers were identified. Newly imaged lobate scarps and other tectonic landforms support the hypothesis that Mercury contracted globally in response to interior cooling. The ˜1500-km-diameter Caloris basin was a focus for volcanic centers, some with evidence of pyroclastic deposits, and widespread contractional and extensional deformation; smooth plains interior and exterior to the basin postdate the basin-forming event. The interior plains of the ˜290-km-diameter Rachmaninoff basin are among the youngest volcanic material on the planet. Mercury surface units are distinguishable by color and composition; smooth plains occupy ˜40% of the surface area, and low-reflectance material occupies ˜15% of the surface area and is primarily seen in deposits excavated by impact. Reflectance spectra show no evidence for FeO in surface silicates, and reflectance and color imaging observations support the view that Mercury's surface material consists dominantly of Fe-poor, Ca-Mg silicates with an admixture of spectrally neutral opaque minerals. In support of the hypothesis that those opaque minerals are Fe

  20. Carbon Solubility in Silicon-Iron-Bearing Metals during Core Formation on Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vander Kaaden, Kathleen E.; McCubbin, Francis M.; Ross, D. Kent; Rapp, Jennifer F.; Danielson, Lisa R.; Keller, Lindsay P.; Righter, Kevin

    2016-01-01

    Recent results obtained from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft showed the surface of Mercury has high S abundances (approximately 4 wt%) and low Iron(II) Oxide abundances (less than 2 wt%). Based on these extreme values, the oxygen fugacity of Mercury's surface materials was estimated to be approximately 3 to 7 log(sub 10) units below the IW buffer (Delta IW-3 to Delta IW-7). This highly reducing nature of the planet has resulted in a large core and relatively thin mantle, extending to only approximately 420 km depth (corresponding to a core-mantle boundary pressure of approximately 4-7 GPa) within the planet. Furthermore, MESSENGER results have suggested the presence of carbon on the surface of the planet. Previous experimental results from have also suggested the possibility of a primary floatation crust on Mercury composed of graphite, produced after a global magma ocean event. With these exotic conditions of this compositional end-member planet, it begs the question, what is the core composition of Mercury? Although no definitive conclusion has been reached, previous studies have made advances towards answering this question. Riner et al. and Chen et al. looked at iron sulfide systems and implemented various crystallization and layered core scenarios to try and determine the composition and structure of Mercury's core. Malavergne et al. examined core crystallization scenarios in the presence of sulfur and silicon. Hauck et al. used the most recent geophysical constraints from the MESSENGER spacecraft to model the internal structure of Mercury, including the core, in a iron-sulfur-silicon system. More recently, Chabot et al. conducted a series of metal-silicate partitioning experiments in a iron-sulfur-silicon system. These results showed the core of Mercury has the potential to contain more than 15 wt% silicon. However, with the newest results from MESSENGER's low altitude campaign, carbon is another

  1. Mercury's Atmosphere - The Known and the Enigma

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Killen, R.

    The atmospheric abundances of known elements in the exosphere of Mercury do not have a one-to one correspondence with the regolith composition. For instance, the Na zenith column abundance in the atmosphere (˜ 2x1011 cm-2) is almost as great as the O column (3x1011 cm-2) although oxygen should comprise as much as 80% of the regolith by number, and sodium is a trace constituent. The difference in the atmospheric abundances cannot be accounted for by relative volatility alone, but by the different source and loss processes of the two. Similarly, although a conservative estimate of the Na/Ca ratio in the regolith by number is about 0.24 (Goettel, In Mercury, 1988), the ratio of Na/Ca in the atmosphere is three orders of magnitude. Again, this difference is too large to be explained by the relative volatility of the two species. It can be explained primarily by the different loss processes. An unknown and controversial species in the exosphere is sulfur. The S abundance in Mercury's regolith has been variously predicted to be 2% by weight, similar to that in the stony meteorites (Sprague et al., Icarus 118, 211-215, 1995), to "significantly depleted relative to Fe" (Goettel, 1988). Given both uncertainties in the S abundance in the regolith (0.1 - 5%) and source and loss mechanisms in the atmosphere, the S zenith column abundance in the atmosphere has been estimated to be 2x1012 cm-2 (Sprague et al., 1995) to 2x1010 (Morgan and Killen, Planet. Space Sci. 45, 81-94, 1997). It is known that the Na exosphere of Mercury is not only highly variable in total abundance but also in spatial morphology. Important controversies include the cause of the high latitude Na enhancements, the existence of dawn/dusk asymmetries, and the variation of the anti-sunward tail with true anomaly angle. We will discuss the properties of Mercury's exosphere: the known, the unknown and the controversial.

  2. Planets and Life

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sullivan, Woodruff T., III; Baross, John

    2007-09-01

    Foreword; Preface; Contributors; Prologue; Part I. History: 1. History of astrobiological ideas W. T. Sullivan and D. Carney; 2. From exobiology to astrobiology S. J. Dick; Part II. The Physical Stage: 3. Formation of Earth-like habitable planets D. E. Brownlee and M. Kress; 4. Planetary atmospheres and life D. Catling and J. F. Kasting; Part III. The Origin of Life on Earth: 5. Does 'life' have a definition? C.E. Cleland and C. F. Chyba; 6. Origin of life: crucial issues R. Shapiro; 7. Origin of proteins and nucleic acids A. Ricardo and S. A. Benner; 8. The roots of metabolism G.D. Cody and J. H. Scott; 9. Origin of cellular life D. W. Deamer; Part IV. Life on Earth: 10. Evolution: a defining feature of life J. A. Baross; 11. Evolution of metabolism and early microbial communities J. A. Leigh, D. A. Stahl and J. T. Staley; 12. The earliest records of life on Earth R. Buick; 13. The origin and diversification of eukaryotes M. L. Sogin, D. J. Patterson and A. McArthur; 14. Limits of carbon life on Earth and elsewhere J. A. Baross, J. Huber and M. Schrenk; 15. Life in ice J. W. Deming and H. Eicken; 16. The evolution and diversification of life S. Awramik and K. J. McNamara; 17. Mass extinctions P. D. Ward; Part V. Potentially Habitable Worlds: 18. Mars B. M. Jakosky, F. Westall and A. Brack; 19. Europa C. F. Chyba and C. B. Phillips; 20. Titan J. I. Lunine and B. Rizk; 21. Extrasolar planets P. Butler; Part VI. Searching for Extraterrestrial Life: 22. How to search for life on other worlds C. P. McKay; 23. Instruments and strategies for detecting extraterrestrial life P. G. Conrad; 24. Societial and ethical concerns M. S. Race; 25. Planetary protection J. D. Rummel; 26. Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence J. C. Tarter; 27. Alien biochemistries P. D. Ward and S. A. Benner; Part VII. Future of the Field: 28. Disciplinary and educational opportunities L. Wells, J. Armstrong and J. Huber; Epilogue C. F. Chyba; Appendixes: A. Units and usages; B. Planetary

  3. Tides in Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stevenson, David J.

    2015-11-01

    The arrival of Juno at Jupiter in less than a year necessitates analysis of what we can learn from the gravitational signal due to tides raised on the planet by satellites (especially Io but also Europa). In the existing literature, there is extensive work on static tidal theory (the response of the planet to a tidal potential whose time dependence is ignored) and this is what is usually quoted when people refer to tidal Love numbers. If this were correct then there would be almost no new information content in the measurement of tidally induced gravity field, since the perturbation is of the same kind as the response to rotation (i.e., the measurement of J2, a well-known quantity). However, tides are dynamic (that is, k2 is frequency dependent) and so there is new information in the frequency dependent part. There is also (highly important) information in the imaginary part (more commonly expressed as tidal Q) but there is no prospect of direct detection of this by Juno since that quadrature signal is so small. The difference between what we expect to measure and what we can already calculate directly from J2 is easily shown to be of order the square of tidal frequency over the lowest order normal mode frequency, and thus of order 10%. However, the governing equations are not simple (not separable) because of the Coriolis force. An approximate solution has been obtained for the n =1 polytrope showing that the correction to k2 is even smaller, typically a few percent, because the tidal frequency is not very different from twice the rotation frequency. Moreover, it is not highly sensitive to structure in standard models. However, the deep interior of the planet may be stably stratified because of a compositional gradient and this modifies the tidal flow amplitude, changing the dynamic k2 but not the static k2. This raises the exciting possibility that we can use the determination of k2 to set bounds on the extent of static stability, if any. There is also the slight

  4. Predicting the Atmospheric Composition of Extrasolar Giant Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sharp, A. G.; Moses, J. I.; Friedson, A. J.; Fegley, B., Jr.; Marley, M. S.; Lodders, K.

    2004-01-01

    To date, approximately 120 planet-sized objects have been discovered around other stars, mostly through the radial-velocity technique. This technique can provide information about a planet s minimum mass and its orbital period and distance; however, few other planetary data can be obtained at this point in time unless we are fortunate enough to find an extrasolar giant planet that transits its parent star (i.e., the orbit is edge-on as seen from Earth). In that situation, many physical properties of the planet and its parent star can be determined, including some compositional information. Our prospects of directly obtaining spectra from extrasolar planets may improve in the near future, through missions like NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder. Most of the extrasolar giant planets (EGPs) discovered so far have masses equal to or greater than Jupiter's mass, and roughly 16% have orbital radii less than 0.1 AU - extremely close to the parent star by our own Solar-System standards (note that Mercury is located at a mean distance of 0.39 AU and Jupiter at 5.2 AU from the Sun). Although all EGPs are expected to have hydrogen-dominated atmospheres similar to Jupiter, the orbital distance can strongly affect the planet's temperature, physical, chemical, and spectral properties, and the abundance of minor, detectable atmospheric constituents. Thermochemical equilibrium models can provide good zero-order predictions for the atmospheric composition of EGPs. However, both the composition and spectral properties will depend in large part on disequilibrium processes like photochemistry, chemical kinetics, atmospheric transport, and haze formation. We have developed a photochemical kinetics, radiative transfer, and 1-D vertical transport model to study the atmospheric composition of EGPs. The chemical reaction list contains H-, C-, O-, and N-bearing species and is designed to be valid for atmospheric temperatures ranging from 100-3000 K and pressures up to 50 bar. Here we examine

  5. What Makes a Habitable Planet?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elkins-Tanton, L.

    2013-04-01

    Space missions help answer one of humanity's most profound questions: Are we alone in the universe? To begin to understand what makes a planet habitable, and thus where to look for life both within and outside of Earth's solar system, scientists need to understand what in planetary formation and what in its subsequent evolution combine to produce a habitable planet.

  6. The fate of scattered planets

    SciTech Connect

    Bromley, Benjamin C.; Kenyon, Scott J. E-mail: skenyon@cfa.harvard.edu

    2014-12-01

    As gas giant planets evolve, they may scatter other planets far from their original orbits to produce hot Jupiters or rogue planets that are not gravitationally bound to any star. Here, we consider planets cast out to large orbital distances on eccentric, bound orbits through a gaseous disk. With simple numerical models, we show that super-Earths can interact with the gas through dynamical friction to settle in the remote outer regions of a planetary system. Outcomes depend on planet mass, the initial scattered orbit, and the evolution of the time-dependent disk. Efficient orbital damping by dynamical friction requires planets at least as massive as the Earth. More massive, longer-lived disks damp eccentricities more efficiently than less massive, short-lived ones. Transition disks with an expanding inner cavity can circularize orbits at larger distances than disks that experience a global (homologous) decay in surface density. Thus, orbits of remote planets may reveal the evolutionary history of their primordial gas disks. A remote planet with an orbital distance ∼100 AU from the Sun is plausible and might explain correlations in the orbital parameters of several distant trans-Neptunian objects.

  7. Three Planets Orbiting Wolf 1061

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wright, D. J.; Wittenmyer, R. A.; Tinney, C. G.; Bentley, J. S.; Zhao, Jinglin

    2016-02-01

    We use archival HARPS spectra to detect three planets orbiting the M3 dwarf Wolf 1061 (GJ 628). We detect a 1.36 M⊕ minimum-mass planet with an orbital period P = 4.888 days (Wolf 1061b), a 4.25 M⊕ minimum-mass planet with orbital period P = 17.867 days (Wolf 1061c), and a likely 5.21 M⊕ minimum-mass planet with orbital period P = 67.274 days (Wolf 1061d). All of the planets are of sufficiently low mass that they may be rocky in nature. The 17.867 day planet falls within the habitable zone for Wolf 1061 and the 67.274 day planet falls just outside the outer boundary of the habitable zone. There are no signs of activity observed in the bisector spans, cross-correlation FWHMs, calcium H & K indices, NaD indices, or Hα indices near the planetary periods. We use custom methods to generate a cross-correlation template tailored to the star. The resulting velocities do not suffer the strong annual variation observed in the HARPS DRS velocities. This differential technique should deliver better exploitation of the archival HARPS data for the detection of planets at extremely low amplitudes.

  8. Pluto: The Farthest Planet (Usually).

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Universe in the Classroom, 1988

    1988-01-01

    Provides background information about the planet Pluto. Includes the history of Pluto and discusses some of the common misconceptions about the planets. Addresses some of the recent discoveries about Pluto and contains a resource list of books, articles, and a videotape. (TW)

  9. Imaging of Mercury and Venus from a flyby

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murray, B.C.; Belton, M.J.S.; Edward, Danielson G.; Davies, M.E.; Kuiper, G.P.; O'Leary, B. T.; Suomi, V.E.; Trask, N.J.

    1971-01-01

    This paper describes the results of study of an imaging experiment planned for the 1973 Mariner Venus/Mercury flyby mission. Scientific objectives, mission constraints, analysis of alternative systems, and the rationale for final choice are presented. Severe financial constraints ruled out the best technical alternative for flyby imaging, a film/readout system, or even significant re-design of previous Mariner vidicon camera/tape recorder systems. The final selection was a vidicon camera quite similar to that used for Mariner Mars 1971, but with the capability of real time transmission during the Venus and Mercury flybys. Real time data return became possible through dramatic increase in the communications bandwidth at only modest sacrifice in the quality of the returned pictures. Two identical long focal length cameras (1500 mm) were selected and it will be possible to return several thousand pictures from both planets at resolutions ranging from equivalent to Earthbased to tenths of a kilometer at encounter. Systematic high resolution ultraviolet photography of Venus is planned after encounter in an attempt to understand the nature of the mysterious ultraviolet markings and their apparent 4- to 5-day rotation period. Full disk coverage in mosaics will produce pictures of both planets similar in quality to Earthbased telescopic pictures of the Moon. The increase of resolution, more than three orders of magnitude, will yield an exciting first look at two planets whose closeup appearance is unknown. ?? 1971.

  10. Searching for Planets Around Pulsars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kohler, Susanna

    2015-09-01

    Did you know that the very first exoplanets ever confirmed were found around a pulsar? The precise timing measurements of pulsar PSR 1257+12 were what made the discovery of its planetary companions possible. Yet surprisingly, though weve discovered thousands of exoplanets since then, only one other planet has ever been confirmed around a pulsar. Now, a team of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science researchers are trying to figure out why.Formation ChallengesThe lack of detected pulsar planets may simply reflect the fact that getting a pulsar-planet system is challenging! There are three main pathways:The planet formed before the host star became a pulsar which means it somehow survived its star going supernova (yikes!).The planet formed elsewhere and was captured by the pulsar.The planet formed out of the debris of the supernova explosion.The first two options, if even possible, are likely to be rare occurrences but the third option shows some promise. In this scenario, after the supernova explosion, a small fraction of the material falls back toward the stellar remnant and is recaptured, forming what is known as a supernova fallback disk. According to this model, planets could potentially form out of this disk.Disk ImplicationsLed by Matthew Kerr, the CSIRO astronomers set out to systematically look for these potential planets that might have formed in situ around pulsars. They searched a sample of 151 young, energetic pulsars, scouring seven years of pulse time-of-arrival data for periodic variation that could signal the presence of planetary companions. Their methods to mitigate pulsar timing noise and model realistic orbits allowed them to have good sensitivity to low-mass planets.The results? They found no conclusive evidence that any of these pulsars have planets.This outcome carries with it some significant implications. The pulsar sample spans 2 Myr in age, in which planets should have had enough time to form in debris disks. The fact that none were detected

  11. Follow that mercury!

    SciTech Connect

    Linero, A.A.

    2008-07-01

    The article discusses one technology option for avoiding release of mercury captured by power plant pollution control equipment in order to render it usable in concrete. This is the use of selective catalytic reduction for NOx control and lime spray dryer absorbers (SDA) for SO{sub 2} control prior to particulate collection by fabric filters. In this scenario all mercury removed is trapped in the fabric filter baghouse. The US EPA did not establish mercury emission limits for existing cement plants in the latest regulation 40 CFR 63, Subpart LLL (December 2006) and was sued by the Portland Cement Association because of the Hg limits established for new kilns and by several states and environmental groups for the lack of limits on existing ones. A full version of this article is available on www.acaa-usa.org/AshatWork.htm. 2 figs.

  12. Water displacement mercury pump

    DOEpatents

    Nielsen, M.G.

    1984-04-20

    A water displacement mercury pump has a fluid inlet conduit and diffuser, a valve, a pressure cannister, and a fluid outlet conduit. The valve has a valve head which seats in an opening in the cannister. The entire assembly is readily insertable into a process vessel which produces mercury as a product. As the mercury settles, it flows into the opening in the cannister displacing lighter material. When the valve is in a closed position, the pressure cannister is sealed except for the fluid inlet conduit and the fluid outlet conduit. Introduction of a lighter fluid into the cannister will act to displace a heavier fluid from the cannister via the fluid outlet conduit. The entire pump assembly penetrates only a top wall of the process vessel, and not the sides or the bottom wall of the process vessel. This insures a leak-proof environment and is especially suitable for processing of hazardous materials.

  13. Water displacement mercury pump

    DOEpatents

    Nielsen, Marshall G.

    1985-01-01

    A water displacement mercury pump has a fluid inlet conduit and diffuser, a valve, a pressure cannister, and a fluid outlet conduit. The valve has a valve head which seats in an opening in the cannister. The entire assembly is readily insertable into a process vessel which produces mercury as a product. As the mercury settles, it flows into the opening in the cannister displacing lighter material. When the valve is in a closed position, the pressure cannister is sealed except for the fluid inlet conduit and the fluid outlet conduit. Introduction of a lighter fluid into the cannister will act to displace a heavier fluid from the cannister via the fluid outlet conduit. The entire pump assembly penetrates only a top wall of the process vessel, and not the sides or the bottom wall of the process vessel. This insures a leak-proof environment and is especially suitable for processing of hazardous materials.

  14. From Pixels to Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Brownston, Lee; Jenkins, Jon M.

    2015-01-01

    The Kepler Mission was launched in 2009 as NASAs first mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. Its telescope consists of a 1.5-m primary mirror and a 0.95-m aperture. The 42 charge-coupled devices in its focal plane are read out every half hour, compressed, and then downlinked monthly. After four years, the second of four reaction wheels failed, ending the original mission. Back on earth, the Science Operations Center developed the Science Pipeline to analyze about 200,000 target stars in Keplers field of view, looking for evidence of periodic dimming suggesting that one or more planets had crossed the face of its host star. The Pipeline comprises several steps, from pixel-level calibration, through noise and artifact removal, to detection of transit-like signals and the construction of a suite of diagnostic tests to guard against false positives. The Kepler Science Pipeline consists of a pipeline infrastructure written in the Java programming language, which marshals data input to and output from MATLAB applications that are executed as external processes. The pipeline modules, which underwent continuous development and refinement even after data started arriving, employ several analytic techniques, many developed for the Kepler Project. Because of the large number of targets, the large amount of data per target and the complexity of the pipeline algorithms, the processing demands are daunting. Some pipeline modules require days to weeks to process all of their targets, even when run on NASA's 128-node Pleiades supercomputer. The software developers are still seeking ways to increase the throughput. To date, the Kepler project has discovered more than 4000 planetary candidates, of which more than 1000 have been independently confirmed or validated to be exoplanets. Funding for this mission is provided by NASAs Science Mission Directorate.

  15. Control of mercury pollution.

    PubMed

    Noyes, O R; Hamdy, M K; Muse, L A

    1976-01-01

    When a 203Ng(NO3)2 solution was kept at 25 degrees C in glass or polypropylene containers, 50 and 80% of original radioactivity was adsorbed to the containers' walls after 1 and 4 days, respectively. However, no loss in radioactivity was observed if the solution was supplemented with HgCl as carrier (100 mug Hg2+/ml) and stored in either container for 13 days. When 203Hg2+ was dissolved in glucose basal salt broth with added carrier, levels of 203Hg2+ in solution (kept in glass) decreased to 80 and 70% of original after 1 and 5 days and decreased even more if stored in polypropylene (60 and 40% of original activity after 1 and 4 days, respectively). In the absence of carrier, decreases of 203Hg2+ activities in media stored in either container were more pronounced due to chemisorption (but) not diffusion. The following factors affecting the removal of mercurials from aqueous solution stored in glass were examined: type and concentration of adsorbent (fiber glass and rubber powder); pH; pretreatment of the rubber; and the form of mercury used. Rubber was equally effective in the adsorption of organic and inorganic mercury. The pH of the aqueous 203Hg2+ solution was not a critical factor in the rate of adsorption of mercury by the rubber. In addition, the effect of soaking the rubber in water for 18 hr did not show any statistical difference when compared with nontreated rubber. It can be concluded that rubber is a very effective adsorbent of mercury and, thus, can be used as a simple method for control of mercury pollution. PMID:1549

  16. Astrophysics: Growing planet brought to light

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhu, Zhaohuan

    2015-11-01

    Thousands of extrasolar planets have been discovered, but none is a planet in its infancy. Observations have finally been made of a young planet growing in its birthplace -- opening the way to many more such discoveries. See Letter p.342

  17. In-Flight performance of MESSENGER's Mercury dual imaging system

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hawkins, S.E.; Murchie, S.L.; Becker, K.J.; Selby, C.M.; Turner, F.S.; Noble, M.W.; Chabot, N.L.; Choo, T.H.; Darlington, E.H.; Denevi, B.W.; Domingue, D.L.; Ernst, C.M.; Holsclaw, G.M.; Laslo, N.R.; Mcclintock, W.E.; Prockter, L.M.; Robinson, M.S.; Solomon, S.C.; Sterner, R.E.

    2009-01-01

    The Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, launched in August 2004 and planned for insertion into orbit around Mercury in 2011, has already completed two flybys of the innermost planet. The Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) acquired nearly 2500 images from the first two flybys and viewed portions of Mercury's surface not viewed by Mariner 10 in 1974-1975. Mercury's proximity to the Sun and its slow rotation present challenges to the thermal design for a camera on an orbital mission around Mercury. In addition, strict limitations on spacecraft pointing and the highly elliptical orbit create challenges in attaining coverage at desired geometries and relatively uniform spatial resolution. The instrument designed to meet these challenges consists of dual imagers, a monochrome narrow-angle camera (NAC) with a 1.5?? field of view (FOV) and a multispectral wide-angle camera (WAC) with a 10.5?? FOV, co-aligned on a pivoting platform. The focal-plane electronics of each camera are identical and use a 1024??1024 charge-coupled device detector. The cameras are passively cooled but use diode heat pipes and phase-change-material thermal reservoirs to maintain the thermal configuration during the hot portions of the orbit. Here we present an overview of the instrument design and how the design meets its technical challenges. We also review results from the first two flybys, discuss the quality of MDIS data from the initial periods of data acquisition and how that compares with requirements, and summarize how in-flight tests are being used to improve the quality of the instrument calibration. ?? 2009 SPIE.

  18. MESSENGER Observations of ULF Waves in Mercury's Foreshock Region

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Le, Guan; Chi, Peter J.; Bardsen, Scott; Blanco-Cano, Xochitl; Slavin, James A.; Korth, Haje

    2012-01-01

    The region upstream from a planetary bow shock is a natural plasma laboratory containing a variety of wave particle phenomena. The study of foreshocks other than the Earth s is important for extending our understanding of collisionless shocks and foreshock physics since the bow shock strength varies with heliocentric distance from the Sun, and the sizes of the bow shocks are different at different planets. The Mercury s bow shock is unique in our solar system as it is produced by low Mach number solar wind blowing over a small magnetized body with a predominately radial interplanetary magnetic field. Previous observations of Mercury upstream ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves came exclusively from two Mercury flybys of Mariner 10. The MESSENGER orbiter data enable us to study of upstream waves in the Mercury s foreshock in depth. This paper reports an overview of upstream ULF waves in the Mercury s foreshock using high-time resolution magnetic field data, 20 samples per second, from the MESSENGER spacecraft. The most common foreshock waves have frequencies near 2 Hz, with properties similar to the 1-Hz waves in the Earth s foreshock. They are present in both the flyby data and in every orbit of the orbital data we have surveyed. The most common wave phenomenon in the Earth s foreshock is the large-amplitude 30-s waves, but similar waves at Mercury have frequencies at 0.1 Hz and occur only sporadically with short durations (a few wave cycles). Superposed on the "30-s" waves, there are spectral peaks at 0.6 Hz, not reported previously in Mariner 10 data. We will discuss wave properties and their occurrence characteristics in this paper.

  19. The Metallicity of Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thorngren, Daniel P.; Fortney, Jonathan

    2015-12-01

    Unique clues about the formation processes of giant planets can be found in their bulk compositions. Transiting planets provide us with bulk density determinations that can then be compared to models of planetary structure and evolution, to deduce planet bulk metallicities. At a given mass, denser planets have a higher mass fraction of metals. However, the unknown hot Jupiter "radius inflation" mechanism leads to under-dense planets that severely biases this work. Here we look at cooler transiting gas giants (Teff < 1000 K), which do not exhibit the radius inflation effect seen in their warmer cousins. We identified 40 such planets between 20 M_Earth and 20 M_Jup from the literature and used evolution models to determine their bulk heavy-element ("metal") mass. Several important trends are apparent. We see that all planets have at least ~10 M_Earth of metals, and that the mass of metal correlates strongly with the total mass of the planet. The heavy-element mass goes as the square root of the total mass. Both findings are consistent with the core accretion model. We also examined the effect of the parent star metallicity [Fe/H], finding that planets around high-metallicity stars are more likely to have large amounts of metal, but the relation appears weaker than previous studies with smaller sample sizes had suggested. We also looked for connections between bulk composition and planetary orbital parameters and stellar parameters, but saw no pattern, which is also an important result. This work can be directly compared to current and future outputs from planet formation models, including population synthesis.

  20. Mercury binding on activated carbon

    SciTech Connect

    Bihter Padak; Michael Brunetti; Amanda Lewis; Jennifer Wilcox

    2006-11-15

    Density functional theory has been employed for the modeling of activated carbon (AC) using a fused-benzene ring cluster approach. Oxygen functional groups have been investigated for their promotion of effective elemental mercury binding on AC surface sites. Lactone and carbonyl functional groups yield the highest mercury binding energies. Further, the addition of halogen atoms has been considered to the modeled surface, and has been found to increase the AC's mercury adsorption capacity. The mercury binding energies increase with the addition of the following halogen atoms, F {gt} Cl {gt} Br {gt} I, with the fluorine addition being the most promising halogen for increasing mercury adsorption.

  1. Observations of Metallic Species in Mercury's Exosphere

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Killen, Rosemary M.; Potter, Andrew E.; Vervack, Ronald J., Jr.; Bradley, E. Todd; McClintock, William E.; Anderson, Carrie M.; Burger, Matthew H.

    2010-01-01

    From observations of the metallic species sodium (Na), potassium (K), and magnesium (Mg) in Mercury's exosphere, we derive implications for source and loss processes. All metallic species observed exhibit a distribution and/or line width characteristic of high to extreme temperature - tens of thousands of degrees K. The temperatures of refractory species, including magnesium and calcium, indicate that the source process for the atoms observed in the tail and near-planet exosphere are consistent with ion sputtering and/or impact vaporization of a molecule with subsequent dissociation into the atomic form. The extended Mg tail is consistent with a surface abundance of 5-8% Mg by number, if 30% of impact-vaporized Mg remains as MgO and half of the impact vapor condenses. Globally, ion sputtering is not a major source of Mg, but locally the sputtered source can be larger than the impact vapor source. We conclude that the Na and K in Mercury's exosphere can be derived from a regolith composition similar to that of Luna 16 soil (or Apollo 17 orange glass), in which the abundance by number is 0.0027 (0.0028) for Na and 0.0006 (0.0045) for K.

  2. The Effect of Giant Planets on Habitable Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Quintana, Elisa V.; Barclay, Thomas

    2016-06-01

    The giant planets in the Solar System likely played a large role in shaping the properties of the Earth during its formation. To explore their effects, we numerically model the growth of Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars with and without Jupiter and Saturn analog companions. Employing state-of-the-art dynamical formation models that allow both accretion and collisional fragmentation, we perform hundreds of simulations and quantify the specific impact energies of all collisions that lead to the formation of an Earth-analog. Our model tracks the bulk compositions and water abundances in the cores and mantles of the growing protoplanets to constrain the types of giant planet configurations that allow the formation of habitable planets. We find significant differences in the collisional histories and bulk compositions of the final planets formed in the presence of different giant planet configurations. Exoplanet surveys like Kepler hint at a paucity of Jupiter analogs, thus these analyses have important implications for determining the frequency of habitable planets and also support target selection for future exoplanet characterization missions.

  3. Mercury CEM Calibration

    SciTech Connect

    John Schabron; Joseph Rovani; Mark Sanderson

    2008-02-29

    Mercury continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) are being implemented in over 800 coal-fired power plant stacks. The power industry desires to conduct at least a full year of monitoring before the formal monitoring and reporting requirement begins on January 1, 2009. It is important for the industry to have available reliable, turnkey equipment from CEM vendors. Western Research Institute (WRI) is working closely with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to facilitate the development of the experimental criteria for a NIST traceability protocol for dynamic elemental mercury vapor generators. The generators are used to calibrate mercury CEMs at power plant sites. The Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) which was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2005 requires that calibration be performed with NIST-traceable standards (Federal Register 2007). Traceability procedures will be defined by EPA. An initial draft traceability protocol was issued by EPA in May 2007 for comment. In August 2007, EPA issued an interim traceability protocol for elemental mercury generators (EPA 2007). The protocol is based on the actual analysis of the output of each calibration unit at several concentration levels ranging initially from about 2-40 {micro}g/m{sup 3} elemental mercury, and in the future down to 0.2 {micro}g/m{sup 3}, and this analysis will be directly traceable to analyses by NIST. The document is divided into two separate sections. The first deals with the qualification of generators by the vendors for use in mercury CEM calibration. The second describes the procedure that the vendors must use to certify the generator models that meet the qualification specifications. The NIST traceable certification is performance based, traceable to analysis using isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry performed by NIST in Gaithersburg, MD. The

  4. Magnetospheric Feedback Effects on Mercury's Dynamo

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gomez Perez, N.; Heyner, D.; Wicht, J.; Solomon, S. C.; Glassmeier, K.

    2010-12-01

    The internal magnetic field of Mercury has been sampled by the Mariner 10 and MESSENGER spacecraft during a combined total of five flybys to date. The measurements are consistent with a magnetic dipole moment of ~ 250 nT RM3, where RM is the radius of Mercury. The action of high solar wind pressure at Mercury’s solar distance on such a weak internal field produces a small magnetosphere for which the dayside magnetopause is unusually close to the surface of the planet (at a planetocentric distance of about 1.5 RM). Because of this small magnetosphere and Mercury’s relatively thin silicate mantle, it has been proposed that magnetospheric currents may influence the internal dynamo process. From numerical simulations, we have previously demonstrated that magnetic field sources external to the dynamo-generating region may modify core dynamics and that this magnetospheric feedback may have influenced the history of Mercury’s dipole field. Here we combine new results from two types of numerical simulations. First, we estimate the magnitude of magnetospheric surface currents with a semi-empirical Earth model adapted to Mercury’s conditions. These currents are calculated for a range of internal dipole moments to establish the functional dependence of the feedback magnitude on internal field amplitude. Second, we implement this feedback function in the internal dynamo model. Earlier magnetospheric feedback models, such as those by Glassmeier and others and Heyner and others, demonstrated that this process is able to sustain an extremely weak magnetic field. Our new, more realistic feedback function leads to slower secular variation than in previous dynamic feedback models, but the secular variation is still typically faster than for isolated dynamos that neglect the external field altogether. Most generally, magnetospheric feedback is able to stabilize a weak dipole field with characteristics that are consistent in magnitude and form with measurements at Mercury.

  5. An Update on Planet Nine

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kohler, Susanna

    2016-07-01

    Whats the news coming from the research world on the search for Planet Nine? Read on for an update from a few of the latest studies.Artists illustration of Planet Nine, a hypothesized Neptune-sized planet orbiting in the distant reaches of our solar system. [Caltech/Robert Hurt]What is Planet Nine?In January of this year, Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown presented evidence of a distant ninth planet in our solar system. They predicted this planet to be of a mass and volume consistent with a super-Earth, orbiting on a highly eccentric pathwith a period of tens of thousands of years.Since Batygin and Browns prediction, scientists have been hunting for further signs of Planet Nine. Though we havent yet discovered an object matching its description, we have come up with new strategies for finding it, we set some constraints on where it might be, and we made some interesting theoretical predictions about its properties.Visualizations of the resonant orbits of the four longest-period Kuiper belt objects, depicted in a frame rotating with the mean angular velocity of Planet Nine. Planet Nines position is on the right (with the trace of possible eccentric orbits e=0.17 and e=0.4 indicated in red). [Malhotra et al 2016]Here are some of the newest constraints on Planet Nine from studies published just within the past two weeks.Resonant OrbitsRenu Malhotra (University of Arizonas Lunar and Planetary Laboratory) and collaborators present further evidence of the shaping of solar system orbits by the hypothetical Planet Nine. The authors point out that the four longest-period Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) have orbital periods close to integer ratios with each other. Could it be that these outer KBOs have become locked into resonant orbits with a distant, massive body?The authors find that a distant planet orbiting with a period of ~17,117 years and a semimajor axis ~665 AU would have N/1 and N/2 period ratios with these four objects. If this is correct, it

  6. An Update on Planet Nine

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kohler, Susanna

    2016-07-01

    Whats the news coming from the research world on the search for Planet Nine? Read on for an update from a few of the latest studies.Artists illustration of Planet Nine, a hypothesized Neptune-sized planet orbiting in the distant reaches of our solar system. [Caltech/Robert Hurt]What is Planet Nine?In January of this year, Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown presented evidence of a distant ninth planet in our solar system. They predicted this planet to be of a mass and volume consistent with a super-Earth, orbiting on a highly eccentric pathwith a period of tens of thousands of years.Since Batygin and Browns prediction, scientists have been hunting for further signs of Planet Nine. Though we havent yet discovered an object matching its description, we have come up with new strategies for finding it, we set some constraints on where it might be, and we made some interesting theoretical predictions about its properties.Visualizations of the resonant orbits of the four longest-period Kuiper belt objects, depicted in a frame rotating with the mean angular velocity of Planet Nine. Planet Nines position is on the right (with the trace of possible eccentric orbits e=0.17 and e=0.4 indicated in red). [Malhotra et al 2016]Here are some of the newest constraints on Planet Nine from studies published just within the past two weeks.Resonant OrbitsRenu Malhotra (University of Arizonas Lunar and Planetary Laboratory) and collaborators present further evidence of the shaping of solar system orbits by the hypothetical Planet Nine. The authors point out that the four longest-period Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) have orbital periods close to integer ratios with each other. Could it be that these outer KBOs have become locked into resonant orbits with a distant, massive body?The authors find that a distant planet orbiting with a period of ~17,117 years and a semimajor axis ~665 AU would have N/1 and N/2 period ratios with these four objects. If this is correct, it

  7. THE FIRST PLANETS: THE CRITICAL METALLICITY FOR PLANET FORMATION

    SciTech Connect

    Johnson, Jarrett L.; Li Hui

    2012-06-01

    A rapidly growing body of observational results suggests that planet formation takes place preferentially at high metallicity. In the core accretion model of planet formation this is expected because heavy elements are needed to form the dust grains which settle into the midplane of the protoplanetary disk and coagulate to form the planetesimals from which planetary cores are assembled. As well, there is observational evidence that the lifetimes of circumstellar disks are shorter at lower metallicities, likely due to greater susceptibility to photoevaporation. Here we estimate the minimum metallicity for planet formation, by comparing the timescale for dust grain growth and settling to that for disk photoevaporation. For a wide range of circumstellar disk models and dust grain properties, we find that the critical metallicity above which planets can form is a function of the distance r at which the planet orbits its host star. With the iron abundance relative to that of the Sun [Fe/H] as a proxy for the metallicity, we estimate a lower limit for the critical abundance for planet formation of [Fe/H]{sub crit} {approx_equal} -1.5 + log (r/1 AU), where an astronomical unit (AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This prediction is in agreement with the available observational data, and carries implications for the properties of the first planets and for the emergence of life in the early universe. In particular, it implies that the first Earth-like planets likely formed from circumstellar disks with metallicities Z {approx}> 0.1 Z{sub Sun }. If planets are found to orbit stars with metallicities below the critical metallicity, this may be a strong challenge to the core accretion model.

  8. Solar System Portrait - Views of 6 Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1990-01-01

    These six narrow-angle color images were made from the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1, which was more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system which shows six of the planets. Mercury is too close to the sun to be seen. Mars was not detectable by the Voyager cameras due to scattered sunlight in the optics, and Pluto was not included in the mosaic because of its small size and distance from the sun. These blown-up images, left to right and top to bottom are Venus, Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. The background features in the images are artifacts resulting from the magnification. The images were taken through three color filters -- violet, blue and green -- and recombined to produce the color images. Jupiter and Saturn were resolved by the camera but Uranus and Neptune appear larger than they really are because of image smear due to spacecraft motion during the long (15 second) exposure times. Earth appears to be in a band of light because it coincidentally lies right in the center of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixels in size. Venus was 0.11 pixel in diameter. The planetary images were taken with the narrow-angle camera (1500 mm focal length).

  9. The Origin of Three Double Planets in the Inner Solar System

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van Flandern, T.

    2007-12-01

    The fission hypothesis is a valid generic formation mechanism for all major planets and moons in the solar system, neatly solving the angular momentum and accretion paradoxes of the standard model. This makes fission the most probable mechanism for the Moon's origin, as independent evidence had earlier concluded. (See chapter 14 of "Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets", T. Van Flandern, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2nd ed. 1999.) Its main strength is that no helper hypotheses are needed to meet all important constraints. R.S. Harrington's backwards integration of the Moon showed that the original obliquity of Earth at the time when the Moon fissioned in Earth's equatorial plane was 8 degrees, similar to the Sun's present axial tilt. J.A. O'Keefe showed that the original lunar mass was about 10 percent of Earth's, making the term "binary planet" apropos. Most of what we know about Venus and Mercury supports the hypothesis of an origin very similar to Earth-Moon. But Mercury's relatively higher mass resulted in escape from Venus about 500 million years after formation. (See "A dynamical investigation of the conjecture that Mercury is an escaped satellite of Venus", T.C. Van Flandern and R.S. Harrington, Icarus 28:435-440, 1976.) Most of what we now know about Mars supports a similar origin for Mars and a now-exploded parent planet. (See "The challenge of the exploded planet hypothesis", Int'l J.AstroBio. 6:185-197, 2007). That scenario is now encapsulated in an attractive 4-minute video showing the connection of that explosion to the K/T boundary event on Earth.

  10. Compressibility of Mercury's dayside magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhong, J.; Wan, W. X.; Wei, Y.; Slavin, J. A.; Raines, J. M.; Rong, Z. J.; Chai, L. H.; Han, X. H.

    2015-12-01

    The Mercury is experiencing significant variations of solar wind forcing along its large eccentric orbit. With 12 Mercury years of data from Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, we demonstrate that Mercury's distance from the Sun has a great effect on the size of the dayside magnetosphere that is much larger than the temporal variations. The mean solar wind standoff distance was found to be about 0.27 Mercury radii (RM) closer to the Mercury at perihelion than at aphelion. At perihelion the subsolar magnetopause can be compressed below 1.2 RM of ~2.5% of the time. The relationship between the average magnetopause standoff distance and heliocentric distance suggests that on average the effects of the erosion process appears to counter balance those of induction in Mercury's interior at perihelion. However, at aphelion, where solar wind pressure is lower and Alfvénic Mach number is higher, the effects of induction appear dominant.

  11. Mercury and mercury compounds toxicology. (Latest citations from the Life Sciences Collection data base). Published Search

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1992-10-01

    The bibliography contains citations concerning the toxic effects of mercury and mercury compounds on biological systems. Mercury metal, mercury vapors, organic mercury compounds, mercury halides, and other inorganic mercury compounds are discussed. Citations include acute, chronic, environmental, metabolic, and pathological effects; and clinical biochemistry of mercury exposure. Heavy metal pollution and bioaccumulation are referenced in related bibliographies. (Contains 250 citations and includes a subject term index and title list.)

  12. Mercury and mercury compounds toxicology. (Latest citations from the Life Sciences Collection database). Published Search

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1994-04-01

    The bibliography contains citations concerning the toxic effects of mercury and mercury compounds on biological systems. Mercury metal, mercury vapors, organic mercury compounds, mercury halides, and other inorganic mercury compounds are discussed. Citations include acute, chronic, environmental, metabolic, and pathological effects; and clinical biochemistry of mercury exposure. Heavy metal pollution and bioaccumulation are referenced in related bibliographies. (Contains 250 citations and includes a subject term index and title list.)

  13. The Morphology of Craters on Mercury: Results from MESSENGER Flybys

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Barnouin, Oliver S.; Zuber, Maria T.; Smith, David E.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Herrick, Robert R.; Chappelow, John E.; Murchie, Scott L.; Prockter, Louise M.

    2012-01-01

    Topographic data measured from the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard the MESSENGER spacecraft were used for investigations of the relationship between depth and diameter for impact craters on Mercury. Results using data from the MESSENGER flybys of the innermost planet indicate that most of the craters measured with MLA are shallower than those previously measured by using Mariner 10 images. MDIS images of these same MLA-measured craters show that they have been modified. The use of shadow measurement techniques, which were found to be accurate relative to the MLA results, indicate that both small bowl-shaped and large complex craters that are fresh possess depth-to-diameter ratios that are in good agreement with those measured from Mariner 10 images. The preliminary data also show that the depths of modified craters are shallower relative to fresh ones, and might provide quantitative estimates of crater in-filling by subsequent volcanic or impact processes. The diameter that defines the transition from simple to complex craters on Mercury based on MESSENGER data is consistent with that reported from Mariner 10 data.

  14. MESSENGER observations of substorm activity in Mercury's near magnetotail

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sun, Wei-Jie; Slavin, James; Fu, Suiyan; Raines, Jim; Zong, Qiu-Gang; Yao, Zhonghua; Pu, Zuyin; Shi, Quanqi; Poh, Gangkai; Boardsen, Scott; Imber, Suzanne; Sundberg, Torbjörn; Anderson, Brian; Korth, Haje; Baker, Daniel

    2015-04-01

    MESSENGER magnetic field and plasma measurements taken during crossings of Mercury's magnetotail from 2011 to 2014 have been examined for evidence of substorm activity. A total of 32 events were found during which an Earth-like growth phase was followed by clear near-tail expansion phase signatures. During the growth phase, the lobe of the tail loads with magnetic flux while the plasma sheet thins due to the increased lobe magnetic pressure. MESSENGER is often initially in the plasma sheet and then moves into the lobe during the growth phases. The averaged time scale of the loading is around 1 min, consistent with previous observations of Mercury's Dungey cycle. The dipolarization front that marks the initiation of the substorm expansion phase is only a few seconds in duration. The spacecraft then abruptly enters the plasma sheet due to the plasma sheet expansion as reconnection-driven flow from the near-Mercury neutral line encounters the stronger magnetic fields closer to the planet. Substorm activity in the near tail of Mercury is quantitatively very similar to the Earth despite the very compressed time scale.

  15. Small-scale turbulence detected in Mercury's magnetic field

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schultz, Colin

    2011-11-01

    With its closest approach a mere 46 million kilometers from the Sun, the blast of the solar wind was supposed to wash away any chance that Mercury could hold on to a magnetic field—an idea rejected by the observations of the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974. Though Mercury was shown to harbor a weak magnetic field (one-hundredth the strength of Earth's), its structure, behavior, and interactions with the solar wind remained heavily debated, yet untested, until the 14 January 2008 approach of NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) orbiter. Using a continuous scalogram analysis—a novel statistical technique in space research—Uritsky et al. analyzed the high-resolution magnetic field strength observations taken by MESSENGER as it flew within a few hundred kilometers of the planet's surface. The authors found turbulence in Mercury's magnetosphere, which they attributed to small-scale interactions between the solar wind plasma and the magnetic field. At large spatial and temporal scales the solar wind can be thought of as a fluid with some magnetic properties—a domain well explained by the theories of magnetohydrodynamics.

  16. Method and apparatus for sampling atmospheric mercury

    DOEpatents

    Trujillo, Patricio E.; Campbell, Evan E.; Eutsler, Bernard C.

    1976-01-20

    A method of simultaneously sampling particulate mercury, organic mercurial vapors, and metallic mercury vapor in the working and occupational environment and determining the amount of mercury derived from each such source in the sampled air. A known volume of air is passed through a sampling tube containing a filter for particulate mercury collection, a first adsorber for the selective adsorption of organic mercurial vapors, and a second adsorber for the adsorption of metallic mercury vapor. Carbon black molecular sieves are particularly useful as the selective adsorber for organic mercurial vapors. The amount of mercury adsorbed or collected in each section of the sampling tube is readily quantitatively determined by flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

  17. Energy coupling in the magnetospheres of earth and Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Baker, D. N.

    1990-01-01

    The mechanisms involved in the dissipation of solar-wind energy during magnetospheric substorms are considered theoretically, comparing models for earth and Mercury. In the model for terrestrial substorms, IMF lines interconnect with terrestrial field lines near the front of the magnetosphere and are dragged back, carrying plasma and energy, to form tail lobes; a magnetic neutral region is then formed by reconnection of the open lines as the plasma sheet thins, and reconnective heating and acceleration of tail plasma lead to plasma inflow at the poles and formation of a plasmoid flowing down the tail at high velocity. Analogous phenomena on Mercury could produce precipitation of particles carrying 10-1000 GW of power into 'auroral zones' on the dark side of the planet. The feasibility of remote or in situ observations to detect such processes is discussed.

  18. Evolution of the Rembrandt impact basin on Mercury.

    PubMed

    Watters, Thomas R; Head, James W; Solomon, Sean C; Robinson, Mark S; Chapman, Clark R; Denevi, Brett W; Fassett, Caleb I; Murchie, Scott L; Strom, Robert G

    2009-05-01

    MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby revealed a ~715-kilometer-diameter impact basin, the second-largest well-preserved basin-scale impact structure known on the planet. The Rembrandt basin is comparable in age to the Caloris basin, is partially flooded by volcanic plains, and displays a unique wheel-and-spoke-like pattern of basin-radial and basin-concentric wrinkle ridges and graben. Stratigraphic relations indicate a multistaged infilling and deformational history involving successive or overlapping phases of contractional and extensional deformation. The youngest deformation of the basin involved the formation of a approximately 1000-kilometer-long lobate scarp, a product of the global cooling and contraction of Mercury. PMID:19407197

  19. Preliminary imaging results from the second Mercury encounter

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Strom, R. G.; Murray, B. C.; Belton, M. J. S.; Danielson, G. E.; Davies, M. E.; Gault, D. E.; Hapke, B.; Oleary, B.; Trask, N.; Guest, J. E.

    1975-01-01

    The second Mercury encounter has resulted in the acquisition of about 360 pictures of the south polar regions which provide a reliable cartographic and geologic tie between the two sides of the planet photographed on the first encounter. Stereoscopic coverage of large areas of the southern hemisphere was obtained by combining Mercury 1 and 2 pictures taken at different viewing angles. The south polar regions consist of heavily cratered terrain and intercrater plains interspersed with patches of smooth plains. No large areas of smooth plains similar to those surrounding Caloris occur in the south polar regions. No new types of terrain have been recognized, but lobate scarps are common. The second largest basin seen by Mariner 10 has been confirmed on the new photography. At high solar elevations the surface displays an abundance of rays and rayed craters.

  20. IMPACT CRATERING ON MERCURY: CONSEQUENCES FOR THE SPIN EVOLUTION

    SciTech Connect

    Correia, Alexandre C. M.; Laskar, Jacques

    2012-06-01

    Impact basins identified by Mariner 10 and Messenger flyby images provide us with a fossilized record of the impactor flux of asteroids on Mercury during the last stages of the early solar system. The distribution of these basins is not uniform across the surface and is consistent with a primordial synchronous rotation. By analyzing the size of the impacts, we derive a simple collisional model coherent with the observations. When combining it with the secular evolution of the spin of Mercury, we are able to reproduce the present 3/2 spin-orbit resonance ({approx}50% of chances), as well as a primordial synchronous rotation. This result is robust with respect to variations in the dissipation and collisional models, or in the initial spin state of the planet.

  1. MESSENGER Observations of Mercury's Bow Shock and Magnetopause

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Slavin, James A.; Boardsen, S. A.; Sarantos, M.; Acuna, M. H.; Anderson, B. J.; Baker, D. N.; Benna, M.; Gloeckler, G.; Gold, R. E.; Ho, G. C.; Korth, H.; Krimigis, S. M.; Livi, S. A.; McNutt, R. L., Jr.; Raines, J. M.; Schriver, D.; Solomon, S. C.; Travnicek, P.; Zurbuchen, T. H.

    2008-01-01

    MESSENGER'S 14 January 2008 encounter with Mercury will provide the first new observations of the solar wind interaction with this planet since the Mariner 10 flybys that took place over 30 years ago. The closest approach distance for this first MESSENGER flyby is targeted for an altitude of 200 km as compared with the 707 km and 327 km attained by Mariner 10 on 29 March 1974 and 16 March 1975, respectively. The locations of the bow shock and magnetopause boundaries observed by MESSENGER will be examined and compared against those found in the earlier Mariner 10 measurements and the predictions of theoretical models and numerical simulations. The structure of the magnetopause will be investigated for the presence of flux transfer events or other evidence of magnetic reconnection as will the more general implications of these new MESSENGER bow shock and magnetopause observations for the global solar wind interaction with Mercury.

  2. Existence of collisional trajectories of Mercury, Mars and Venus with the Earth.

    PubMed

    Laskar, J; Gastineau, M

    2009-06-11

    It has been established that, owing to the proximity of a resonance with Jupiter, Mercury's eccentricity can be pumped to values large enough to allow collision with Venus within 5 Gyr (refs 1-3). This conclusion, however, was established either with averaged equations that are not appropriate near the collisions or with non-relativistic models in which the resonance effect is greatly enhanced by a decrease of the perihelion velocity of Mercury. In these previous studies, the Earth's orbit was essentially unaffected. Here we report numerical simulations of the evolution of the Solar System over 5 Gyr, including contributions from the Moon and general relativity. In a set of 2,501 orbits with initial conditions that are in agreement with our present knowledge of the parameters of the Solar System, we found, as in previous studies, that one per cent of the solutions lead to a large increase in Mercury's eccentricity-an increase large enough to allow collisions with Venus or the Sun. More surprisingly, in one of these high-eccentricity solutions, a subsequent decrease in Mercury's eccentricity induces a transfer of angular momentum from the giant planets that destabilizes all the terrestrial planets approximately 3.34 Gyr from now, with possible collisions of Mercury, Mars or Venus with the Earth. PMID:19516336

  3. Predicting mercury in mallard ducklings from mercury in chorioallantoic membranes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Heinz, G.H.; Hoffman, D.J.

    2003-01-01

    Methylmercury has been suspected as a cause of impaired reproduction in wild birds, but the confounding effects of other environmental stressors has made it difficult to determine how much mercury in the eggs of these wild species is harmful. Even when a sample egg can be collected from the nest of a wild bird and the mercury concentration in that egg compared to the laboratory-derived thresholds for reproductive impairment, additional information on the mercury levels in other eggs from that nest would be helpful in determining whether harmful levels of mercury were present in the clutch. The measurement of mercury levels in chorioallantoic membranes offers a possible way to estimate how much mercury was in a chick that hatched from an egg, and also in the whole fresh egg itself. While an embryo is developing, wastes are collected in a sac called the chorioallantoic membranes, which often remain inside the eggshell and can be collected for contaminant analysis. We fed methylmercury to captive mallards to generate a broad range of mercury levels in eggs, allowed the eggs to hatch normally, and then compared mercury concentrations in the hatchling versus the chorioallantoic membranes left behind in the eggshell. When the data from eggs laid by mercury- treated females were expressed as common logarithms, a linear equation was created by which the concentration of mercury in a duckling could be predicted from the concentration of mercury in the chorioallantoic membranes from the same egg. Therefore, if it were not possible to collect a sample egg from a clutch of wild bird eggs, the collection of the chorioallantoic membranes could be substituted, and the mercury predicted to be in the chick or whole egg could be compared to the thresholds of mercury that have been shown to cause harm in controlled feeding studies with pheasants, chickens, and mallards.

  4. Studying the surface of Mercury with BepiColombo

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Helbert, J.; Benkhoff, J.

    2015-12-01

    The payload of the ESA-JAXA mission BepiColombo had been proposed long before the NASA MESSENGER mission provided us with new insights into the innermost of the terrestrial planets. The discoveries of the MESSENGER fundamentally changed our view of Mercury. It revealed a surface that has been reshaped by volcanism over large parts of geological history. Volatile elements like sulfur have been detected with unexpectedly high abundances of up to 4%. MESSENGER imagined structures that are most likely formed by pyroclastic eruptions in recent geologic history. Among the most exciting discoveries of MESSENGER are hollows - bright irregularly shaped depressions that show sign of ongoing loss of material. BepiColombo will be building on what has been learned from the MESSENGER mission and extend the knowledge. Due to its more circular orbit BepiColombo will provide good spatial resolution for both hemispheres of Mercury. The mission will give us the first good look at the southern hemisphere of the planet. All spectral instruments are imaging and cover a wider spectral range than the instruments on MESSENGER. Some instruments will provide us datasets that have not been obtained by MESSENGER in any form. MERTIS will for example provide the first temperature map of Mercury and will map the surface composition of the planet for the first time in the thermal infrared. The telescopic imaging channel of the XRS instrument will provide elemental composition at an unprecedented spatial resolution. The MESSENGER results will be key to formulate the observation plan for the surface instruments on BepiColombo. They also have motivated a wide range of laboratory experiments that will help to better understand the results returned by the suite of instruments.

  5. MERCURY CYCLING AND BIOMAGNIFICATION

    EPA Science Inventory

    Mercury cycling and biomagnification was studied in man-made ponds designed for watering livestock on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Multiple Hg species were quantified through multiple seasons for 2 years in total atmospheric deposition samples, surface wa...

  6. MERCURY CEMS: TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

    EPA Science Inventory

    The paper reviews the technologies involved with continuous emission monitors (CEMs) for mercury (Hg) which are receiving incresed attention and focus. Their potential use as a compliance assurance tool is of particular interest. While Hg CEMs are currently used in Europe for com...

  7. Hazards of Mercury.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Environmental Research, 1971

    1971-01-01

    Common concern for the protection and improvement of the environment and the enhancement of human health and welfare underscore the purpose of this special report on the hazards of mercury directed to the Secretary's Pesticide Advisory Committee, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The report summarizes the findings of a ten-member study…

  8. ATMOSPHERIC MERCURY RESEARCH

    EPA Science Inventory

    Environmental contamination from mercury has been recognized for decades as a growing problem to humans and wildlife. It is released from a variety of sources, exhibits a complicated chemistry, and proceeds via several different pathways to humans and wildlife. According to the...

  9. Tidal Dissipation in Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bills, B. G.

    2002-01-01

    The spatial pattern and total inventory of tidal dissipation within Mercury depends sensitively on internal structure and on orbital eccentricity. Surface heat flow from this source may exceed 3 mW/sq m, and will vary with time as the orbital eccentricity fluctuates. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.

  10. MERCURY SPECIATION AND CAPTURE

    EPA Science Inventory

    In December 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced its intent to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired electric utility steam generating plants. Maximum achievable control technology (MACT) requirements are to be proposed by December 2003 and finali...

  11. Mercury Shopping Cart Interface

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pfister, Robin; McMahon, Joe

    2006-01-01

    Mercury Shopping Cart Interface (MSCI) is a reusable component of the Power User Interface 5.0 (PUI) program described in another article. MSCI is a means of encapsulating the logic and information needed to describe an orderable item consistent with Mercury Shopping Cart service protocol. Designed to be used with Web-browser software, MSCI generates Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages on which ordering information can be entered. MSCI comprises two types of Practical Extraction and Report Language (PERL) modules: template modules and shopping-cart logic modules. Template modules generate HTML pages for entering the required ordering details and enable submission of the order via a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) post. Shopping cart modules encapsulate the logic and data needed to describe an individual orderable item to the Mercury Shopping Cart service. These modules evaluate information entered by the user to determine whether it is sufficient for the Shopping Cart service to process the order. Once an order has been passed from MSCI to a deployed Mercury Shopping Cart server, there is no further interaction with the user.

  12. Mercury Information Clearinghouse

    SciTech Connect

    Chad A. Wocken; Michael J. Holmes; Dennis L. Laudal; Debra F. Pflughoeft-Hassett; Greg F. Weber; Nicholas V. C. Ralston; Stanley J. Miller; Grant E. Dunham; Edwin S. Olson; Laura J. Raymond; John H. Pavlish; Everett A. Sondreal; Steven A. Benson

    2006-03-31

    The Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) identified a need and contracted the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to create and maintain an information clearinghouse on global research and development activities related to mercury emissions from coal-fired electric utilities. With the support of CEA, the Center for Air Toxic Metals{reg_sign} (CATM{reg_sign}) Affiliates, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the EERC developed comprehensive quarterly information updates that provide a detailed assessment of developments in the various areas of mercury monitoring, control, policy, and research. A total of eight topical reports were completed and are summarized and updated in this final CEA quarterly report. The original quarterly reports can be viewed at the CEA Web site (www.ceamercuryprogram.ca). In addition to a comprehensive update of previous mercury-related topics, a review of results from the CEA Mercury Program is provided. Members of Canada's coal-fired electricity generation sector (ATCO Power, EPCOR, Manitoba Hydro, New Brunswick Power, Nova Scotia Power Inc., Ontario Power Generation, SaskPower, and TransAlta) and CEA, have compiled an extensive database of information from stack-, coal-, and ash-sampling activities. Data from this effort are also available at the CEA Web site and have provided critical information for establishing and reviewing a mercury standard for Canada that is protective of environment and public health and is cost-effective. Specific goals outlined for the CEA mercury program included the following: (1) Improve emission inventories and develop management options through an intensive 2-year coal-, ash-, and stack-sampling program; (2) Promote effective stack testing through the development of guidance material and the support of on-site training on the Ontario Hydro method for employees, government representatives, and contractors on an as-needed basis; (3) Strengthen laboratory analytical capabilities through

  13. [Mercury in vaccines].

    PubMed

    Hessel, Luc

    2003-01-01

    Thiomersal, also called thimerosal, is an ethyl mercury derivative used as a preservative to prevent bacterial contamination of multidose vaccine vials after they have been opened. Exposure to low doses of thiomersal has essentially been associated with hypersensitivity reactions. Nevertheless there is no evidence that allergy to thiomersal could be induced by thiomersal-containing vaccines. Allergy to thiomersal is usually of delayed-hypersensitivity type, but its detection through cutaneous tests is not very reliable. Hypersensitivity to thiomersal is not considered as a contraindication to the use of thiomersal-containing vaccines. In 1999 in the USA, thiomersal was present in approximately 30 different childhood vaccines, whereas there were only 2 in France. Although there were no evidence of neurological toxicity in infants related to the use of thiomersal-containing vaccines, the FDA considered that the cumulative dose of mercury received by young infants following vaccination was high enough (although lower than the FDA threshold for methyl mercury) to request vaccine manufacturers to remove thiomersal from vaccine formulations. Since 2002, all childhood vaccines used in Europe and the USA are thiomersal-free or contain only minute amounts of thiomersal. Recently published studies have shown that the mercury levels in the blood, faeces and urine of children who had received thiomersal-containing vaccines were much lower than those accepted by the American Environmental Protection Agency. It has also been demonstrated that the elimination of mercury in children was much faster than what was expected on the basis of studies conducted with methyl mercury originating from food. Recently, the hypothesis that mercury contained in vaccines could be the cause of autism and other neurological developmental disorders created a new debate in the medical community and the general public. To date, none of the epidemiological studies conducted in Europe and elsewhere

  14. Linking the timing of volcanic and tectonic features on Mercury: results from buffered crater counting

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fegan, E. R.; Rothery, D. A.; Conway, S. J.; Anand, M.; Massironi, M.

    2014-04-01

    Lobate scarps on Mercury are curvilinear tectonic features that are interpreted as thrust faults intersecting the surface, formed as the planet contracted. In some places these scarps are found at the edges of flooded impact structures, where compression has resulted in tectonic activation of the boundary between fill and original basin surface as indicated in Fig.6 of [2]. The timing of volcanic and tectonic activity is poorly constrained on Mercury; we aim to use stratigraphic relationships and crater counting to address this uncertainty.

  15. VizieR Online Data Catalog: Mercury-T code (Bolmont+, 2015)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bolmont, E.; Raymond, S. N.; Leconte, J.; Hersant, F.; Correia, A. C. M.

    2015-11-01

    The major addition to Mercury provided in Mercury-T is the addition of the tidal forces and torques. But we also added the effect of general relativity and rotation-induced deformation. We explain in the following sections how these effects were incorporated in the code. We also give the planets and star/BD/Jupiter parameters which are implemented in the code. The link to this code and the manual can also be found here: http://www.emelinebolmont.com/research-interests (2 data files).

  16. Mercury control in 2009

    SciTech Connect

    Sjostrom, S.; Durham, M.; Bustard, J.; Martin, C.

    2009-07-15

    Although activated carbon injection (ACI) has been proven to be effective for many configurations and is a preferred option at many plants sufficient quantities of powdered activated coking (PAC) must be available to meet future needs. The authors estimate that upcoming federal and state regulations will result in tripling the annual US demand for activated carbon to nearly 1.5 billion lb from approximately 450 million lb. Rapid expansion of US production capacity is required. Many PAC manufacturers are discussing expansion of their existing production capabilities. One company, ADA Carbon Solutions, is in the process of constructing the largest activated carbon facility in North America to meet the future demand for PAC as a sorbent for mercury control. Emission control technology development and commercialization is driven by regulation and legislation. Although ACI will not achieve > 90% mercury control at every plant, the expected required MACT legislation level, it offers promise as a low-cost primary mercury control technology option for many configurations and an important trim technology for others. ACI has emerged as the clear mercury-specific control option of choice, representing over 98% of the commercial mercury control system orders to date. As state regulations are implemented and the potential for a federal rule becomes more imminent, suppliers are continuing to develop technologies to improve the cost effectiveness and limit the balance of plant impacts associated with ACI and are developing additional PAC production capabilities to ensure that the industry's needs are met. The commercialisation of ACI is a clear example of industry, through the dedication of many individuals and companies with support from the DOE and EPRI, meeting the challenge of developing cost-effectively reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. 7 refs., 1 fig.

  17. Small Mercury Relativity Orbiter

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bender, Peter L.; Vincent, Mark A.

    1989-01-01

    The accuracy of solar system tests of gravitational theory could be very much improved by range and Doppler measurements to a Small Mercury Relativity Orbiter. A nearly circular orbit at roughly 2400 km altitude is assumed in order to minimize problems with orbit determination and thermal radiation from the surface. The spacecraft is spin-stabilized and has a 30 cm diameter de-spun antenna. With K-band and X-band ranging systems using a 50 MHz offset sidetone at K-band, a range accuracy of 3 cm appears to be realistically achievable. The estimated spacecraft mass is 50 kg. A consider-covariance analysis was performed to determine how well the Earth-Mercury distance as a function of time could be determined with such a Relativity Orbiter. The minimum data set is assumed to be 40 independent 8-hour arcs of tracking data at selected times during a two year period. The gravity field of Mercury up through degree and order 10 is solved for, along with the initial conditions for each arc and the Earth-Mercury distance at the center of each arc. The considered parameters include the gravity field parameters of degree 11 and 12 plus the tracking station coordinates, the tropospheric delay, and two parameters in a crude radiation pressure model. The conclusion is that the Earth-Mercury distance can be determined to 6 cm accuracy or better. From a modified worst-case analysis, this would lead to roughly 2 orders of magnitude improvement in the knowledge of the precession of perihelion, the relativistic time delay, and the possible change in the gravitational constant with time.

  18. A mercury transport and fate model (LM2-mercury) for mass budget assessment of mercury cycling in Lake Michigan

    EPA Science Inventory

    LM2-Mercury, a mercury mass balance model, was developed to simulate and evaluate the transport, fate, and biogeochemical transformations of mercury in Lake Michigan. The model simulates total suspended solids (TSS), disolved organic carbon (DOC), and total, elemental, divalent, ...

  19. Comparative ionospheres. I - The inner planets. II - The outer planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cravens, T. E.

    1983-01-01

    A description is given first of the fundamental physical and chemical processes controlling the thermospheres and ionospheres of the inner planets, Venus and Mars. A comparison is made between the neutral composition and temperature structure of Venus and Mars and those of the earth. Consideration is then given to the chemical and diffusion processes in the ionosphere. After a brief treatment of the ionospheric energetics and heat sources, the mechanisms underlying the maintenance of the nightside ionosphere of Venus are reviewed. A description is then given of the upper atmospheres and ionospheres of the major planets, Jupiter and Saturn. The treatment of the temperature structure and composition of the thermospheres of the major planets includes a description of the physical and chemical processes controlling the hydrocarbons and atomic hydrogen. A comparison is then made between the ionospheres of the major planets and those of the inner planets. It is noted that Io and Titan also have atmospheres and ionospheres, and these are treated briefly. Even though comets cannot be classed as planets, they have atmospheres and ionospheres that are not gravitationally confined.

  20. Migration & Extra-solar Terrestrial Planets: Watering the Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Carter-Bond, Jade C.; O'Brien, David P.; Raymond, Sean N.

    2014-04-01

    A diverse range of terrestrial planet compositions is believed to exist within known extrasolar planetary systems, ranging from those that are relatively Earth-like to those that are highly unusual, dominated by species such as refractory elements (Al and Ca) or C (as pure C, TiC and SiC)(Bond et al. 2010b). However, all prior simulations have ignored the impact that giant planet migration during planetary accretion may have on the final terrestrial planetary composition. Here, we combined chemical equilibrium models of the disk around five known planetary host stars (Solar, HD4203, HD19994, HD213240 and Gl777) with dynamical models of terrestrial planet formation incorporating various degrees of giant planet migration. Giant planet migration is found to drastically impact terrestrial planet composition by 1) increasing the amount of Mg-silicate species present in the final body; and 2) dramatically increasing the efficiency and amount of water delivered to the terrestrial bodies during their formation process.