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Sample records for mercury planet

  1. Mercury: the forgotten planet.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nelson, R. M.

    1997-11-01

    Mercury is the neglected child of the planetary system. Only one spacecraft has every ventured near it, whereas scores have probed the moon, Venus and Mars. The scant facts available show this strange, blazingly hot planet is full of surprises: its anomalous density and magnetic field suggest that Mercury may be where to seek clues to the origin of the solar system.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Rotation of the planet mercury.

    PubMed

    Jefferys, W H

    1966-04-08

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Terrestrial Planet Formation: Constraining the Formation of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lykawka, Patryk Sofia; Ito, Takashi

    2017-04-01

    How the four terrestrial planets of the solar system formed is one of the most fundamental questions in the planetary sciences. Particularly, the formation of Mercury remains poorly understood. We investigated terrestrial planet formation by performing 110 high-resolution N-body simulation runs using more than 100 embryos and 6000 disk planetesimals representing a primordial protoplanetary disk. To investigate the formation of Mercury, these simulations considered an inner region of the disk at 0.2–0.5 au (the Mercury region) and disks with and without mass enhancements beyond the ice line location, a IL, in the disk, where a IL = 1.5, 2.25, and 3.0 au were tested. Although Venus and Earth analogs (considering both orbits and masses) successfully formed in the majority of the runs, Mercury analogs were obtained in only nine runs. Mars analogs were also similarly scarce. Our Mercury analogs concentrated at orbits with a ∼ 0.27–0.34 au, relatively small eccentricities/inclinations, and median mass m ∼ 0.2 {M}\\oplus . In addition, we found that our Mercury analogs acquired most of their final masses from embryos/planetesimals initially located between 0.2 and ∼1–1.5 au within 10 Myr, while the remaining mass came from a wider region up to ∼3 au at later times. Although the ice line was negligible in the formation of planets located in the Mercury region, it enriched all terrestrial planets with water. Indeed, Mercury analogs showed a wide range of water mass fractions at the end of terrestrial planet formation.

  15. 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.; ;

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Google Mercury: The Launch of a New Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

    The NASA MESSENGER mission’s Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team, in cooperation with Google, Inc., has launched Google Mercury, an immersive new environment on the Google Earth platform. Google Mercury features hundreds of surface features, most of them newly revealed by the three flybys of the innermost planet by the MESSENGER spacecraft. As with Google Earth, Google Mercury is available on line at no cost. This presentation will demonstrate how our team worked with Google staff, features we incorporated, how games can be developed within the Google Earth platform, and how others can add tours, games, and other educational features. Finally, we will detail new enhancements to be added once MESSENGER enters into orbit about Mercury in March 2011 and begins sending back compelling images and other global data sets on a daily basis. The MESSENGER EPO Team comprises individuals from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE); Center for Educational Resources (CERES) at Montana State University (MSU) - Bozeman; National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE); Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL); National Air and Space Museum (NASM); Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI); and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Screen shot of Google Mercury as a work in progress

  19. ISA accelerometer: fundamental support for the exploration of planet Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iafolla, Valerio; Fiorenza, Emiliano; Lefevre, Carlo; Nozzoli, Sergio; Peron, Roberto; Reale, Andrea; Santoli, Francesco

    2010-05-01

    The development of BepiColombo mission is proceeding, in view of the launch, foreseen for 2014. This mission will perform a thorough study of the planet Mercury and its environment. An important set of scientific objectives is constituted by the so-called Radio Science Experiments (RSE), which will study the gravitational field and rotation of the planet, and will perform very precise tests of general relativity theory. In order to reach the required level of accuracy in recovering the relevant parameters, the data coming from the high-sensitivity ISA (Italian Spring Accelerometer) instrument onboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be used: this will be the first time for a deep-space probe. Following a brief description of the mission and RSE, the instrument and its wide capabilities will be reviewed. The focus will be in particular on the updated error budget, operational procedures and extended use of the instrument in the various parts of the RSE. It will be also described the procedure for on-ground calibration of the accelerometer.

  20. Mercury-like Planets: Separating Metals and Silicates by Photophoresis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wurm, Gerhard; Trieloff, M.; Rauer, H.; Kuepper, M.

    2013-10-01

    Particles at the inner edge of protoplanetary disks are embedded in gas and are illuminated by starlight. This leads to photophoretic forces which - acting best on low thermal conductivity particles - push silicates outward. Metal grains remain behind and get separated from the silicates. If planetesimal formation is set on top of this separation an outward migrating edge will naturally lead to a metal-silicate gradient. Metal rich bodies like Mercury will form close to the star and metal poor bodies will be located further outward. This is consistent with chondrites being mostly metal poor and it is consistent with the smallest rocky planets CoRoT-7b and Kepler-10b - found close to their host star - being Mercury-like. In contrast to high temperature processing photophoresis does not change the abundance of volatile elements. We started to model the particle transport in the transition region between the optical thin disk gap and the optical thick outer protoplanetary disk. Also, first drop tower experiments have been carried out to quantify the strength of the photophoretic force on silicate grains.

  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.

  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.

  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. Improving the Visual Magnitudes of the Planets in The Astronomical Almanac. I. Mercury and Venus

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2005-01-01

    2005 2. REPORT TYPE N/A 3. DATES COVERED - 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Improving the Visual Magnitudes of the Planets in The Astronomical Almanac...1. Mercury and Venus 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT NUMBER 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER 6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e. TASK NUMBER 5f. WORK

  10. Groundbased High-Definition Imaging of the Planet Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mendillo, M.; Baumgardner, J.; Wilson, J. K.

    2000-10-01

    New instrumentation has been developed for spectral imaging of Mercury's extended atmosphere. The approach depends upon simultaneous short-exposure images in white light and sodium, with the former used to select the frames for post-integration of the sodium images. The effects of atmospheric seeing are thus minimized by the combination of high-speed exposures and subsequent selective integration. The instrumentation consists of a long slit imaging Echelle spectrometer equipped with an image slicer and an imaging photon detector. A test of the white light component of the technique has yielded a best-to-date image of a portion of Mercury's surface not photographed during the Mariner 10 mission. The pilot observations were made at the Mt. Wilson Observatory on 29 August 1998. The optical images show Mercury's albedo features over the longitude range 270o-360o W. Spatially variable features are seen with a resolution of ~250 km. A bright feature in the northern hemisphere appears similar to the lunar crater Copernicus; three darker features are similar in appearance to lunar maria. There are no obvious relations of the white light albedo features to either radar maps or sodium bright spots reported in the literature.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. A whole new Mercury: MESSENGER reveals a dynamic planet at the last frontier of the inner solar system

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Catherine L.; Hauck, , Steven A.

    2016-11-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission yielded a wealth of information about the innermost planet. For the first time, visible images of the entire planet, absolute altimetry measurements and a global gravity field, measurements of Mercury's surface composition, magnetic field, exosphere, and magnetosphere taken over more than four Earth years are available. From these data, two overarching themes emerge. First, multiple data sets and modeling efforts point toward a dynamic ancient history. Signatures of graphite in the crust suggest solidification of an early magma ocean, image data show extensive volcanism and tectonic features indicative of subsequent global contraction, and low-altitude measurements of magnetic fields reveal an ancient magnetic field. Second, the present-day Mercury environment is far from quiescent. Convective motions in the outer core support a modern magnetic field whose strength and geometry are unique among planets with global magnetic fields. Furthermore, periodic and aperiodic variations in the magnetosphere and exosphere have been observed, some of which couple to the surface and the planet's deep interior. Finally, signatures of geologically recent volatile activity at the surface have been detected. Mercury's early history and its present-day environment have common elements with the other inner solar system bodies. However, in each case there are also crucial differences and these likely hold the key to further understanding of Mercury and terrestrial planet evolution. MESSENGER's exploration of Mercury has enabled a new view of the innermost planet, and more importantly has set the stage for much-needed future exploration.

  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.

  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. The Role of Carbon in Core Formation Under Highly Reducing Conditions With Implications for the Planet Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

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

    2017-01-01

    Results from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft have shown elevated abundances of carbon on the surface of Mercury. Furthermore, the X-Ray Spectrometer on board MESSENGER measured elevated abundances of sulfur and low abundances of iron, suggesting the planet's oxygen fugacity (fO2) is several log10 units below the Iron-Wüstite (IW) buffer. Similar to the role of other volatiles (e.g. sulfur) on highly reducing planetary bodies, carbon is expected to behave differently than it would under higher fO2. As discussed by Nittler et al. and Hauck et al., under such highly reducing conditions, the majority of the iron partitions into the core. On Mercury, this resulted in a relatively large core and a thin mantle. Using a composition similar to the largest volcanic field on the planet (the northern volcanic plains), Vander Kaaden and McCubbin conducted sink-float experiments to determine the density of melts and minerals on Mercury. They showed that graphite would be the only buoyant mineral in a mercurian magma ocean. Therefore, Vander Kaaden and McCubbin proposed a possible primary flotation crust on the planet composed of graphite. Concurrently, Peplowski et al. used GRS data from MESSENGER to show an average northern hemisphere abundance of C on the planet of 1.4 +/- 0.9 wt%. However, as this result was only at the one-sigma detection limit, possible carbon abundances at the three-sigma detection limit for Mercury range from 0 to 4.1 wt% carbon. Additionally, Murchie et al. investigated the possible darkening agent on Mercury and concluded that coarse-grained graphite could darken high reflectance plains to the low reflectance material. To further test the possibility of elevated abundances of carbon in Mercury's crust, Peplowski et al. used the low-altitude MESSENGER data to show that carbon is the only material consistent with both the visible to near-infrared spectra and the neutron measurements of low

  19. Mercury Sodium Atmosphere Spectral Imager (MSASI) - taking High Resolution Interferometry to the Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yoshikawa, Ichiro; Kameda, Shingo; Korablev, Oleg; Rees, David

    The Mercury Sodium Atmosphere Spectral Imager (MSASI) on the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter of the JAXA / ESA Bepi-Colombo (BC) Mission will address a range of fundamental scientific questions pertaining to Mercury's exosphere. The measurements will provide new information on regolith-exosphere-magnetosphere coupling as well as new understanding of the dynamics governing the exosphere bounded by the planetary surface, the solar wind and interplanetary space. MSASI is a high-dispersion visible spectrometer working in the spectral region near the sodium D2 emission (589 nm), a major constituent of the Mercury exosphere. A single high-resolution Fabry-Perot etalon is used in combination with a narrow-band interference filter to achieve a compact and efficient instrument design. The etalon and filter are extremely stable with respect to long-term ageing and temperature variations. Full-disk images of the planet are obtained by means of a single-axis scanning mirror in combination with the spin of the MMO spacecraft . This paper presents an overview of the MSASI and the design of the Fabry- Perot interferometer used as its spectral analyser. It is concluded that: (1) The MSASI optical design is practical and can be implemented without new or critical technology developments; (2) The thermally-stable etalon design is based on concepts, designs and materials that have a good space heritage. (3) The MSASI instrument will achieve a high SNR (˜10) in the range of 2K-10M Rayleigh.

  20. Contributions of ISA accelerometer to BepiColombo exploration of planet Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iafolla, Valerio; Fiorenza, Emiliano; Lefevre, Carlo; Lucchesi, David; Magnafico, Carmelo; Nozzoli, Sergio; Peron, Roberto; Reale, Andrea; Ricotta, Angelo; Santoli, Francesco

    To be launched in 2014, ESA mission BepiColombo will perform a thorough study of the planet Mercury and its environment. Among the wide range of its scientific objectives, an important set is constituted by the so-called Radio Science Experiments (RSE), which will study the gravitational field and rotation of the planet, and will perform very precise tests of general relativity theory. In order to reach the required level of accuracy in recovering the relevant parameters, the data coming from the high-sensitivity ISA (Italian Spring Accelerometer) instrument onboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be used — the first time for a deep-space probe — in the orbit determination and parameter estimation procedure. Following a brief description of the mission and RSE, the instrument and its wide capabilities will be reviewed. In particular the updated error budget for the acceleration measurements will be shown, together with a discussion of the calibration procedures, both on-ground and in-orbit, which are currently under definition.

  1. Contributions of ISA accelerometer to BepiColombo exploration of planet Mercury: status

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iafolla, Valerio; Fiorenza, Emiliano; Lefevre, Carlo; Massimo Lucchesi, David; Lucente, Marco; Magnafico, Carmelo; Nozzoli, Sergio; Peron, Roberto; Santoli, Francesco

    2014-05-01

    To be launched in 2016, ESA mission BepiColombo will perform a thorough study of the planet Mercury and its environment. Among the wide range of its scientific objectives, an important set is constituted by the so-called Radio Science Experiments (RSE), which will study the gravitational field and rotation of the planet, and will perform very precise tests of general relativity theory. In order to reach the required level of accuracy in recovering the relevant parameters, the data coming from the high-sensitivity ISA (Italian Spring Accelerometer) instrument onboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be used - the first time for a deep-space probe - in the orbit determination and parameter estimation procedure. Following a brief description of the RSE in the context of the mission, the instrument and its wide capabilities will be reviewed. In particular the overall measurement procedure will be discussed, along with recent and current work on instrument calibration (both on-ground and in-orbit), operations planning, data handling and processing and archiving.

  2. Contributions of ISA accelerometer to BepiColombo exploration of planet Mercury: current status

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iafolla, V.; Fiorenza, E.; Lefevre, C.; Lucchesi, D. M.; Lucente, M.; Magnafico, C.; Nozzoli, S.; Peron, R.; Santoli, F.

    2013-09-01

    The BepiColombo ESA mission will perform a thorough study of the planet Mercury and its environment. Among the wide range of its scientific objectives, an important set is constituted by the so-called Radio Science Experiments (RSE), which will study the gravitational field and rotation of the planet, and will perform very precise tests of general relativity theory. In order to reach the required level of accuracy in recovering the relevant parameters, the data coming from the high-sensitivity ISA (Italian Spring Accelerometer) instrument onboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be used — the first time for a deep-space probe — in the orbit determination and parameter estimation procedure. Following a brief description of the RSE in the context of the mission, the instrument and its wide capabilities will be reviewed. In particular the overall measurement procedure will be discussed, along with recent and current work on instrument calibration —both on-groun d and in-orbit—operations planning, data handling and processing and archiving.

  3. "Dry" Mercury and "wet" Mars: comparison of two terrestrial planets with strongly differing orbital frequencies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kochemasov, G.

    The modern wave planetology states that "orbits make structures". It means that all celestial bodies moving in non-round keplerian elliptical (and parabolic) orbits and rotating (all bodies rotate) are subjected to warping action of inertia-gravity waves . The waves appear in bodies due to periodically changing accelerations during cyclic orbital movements; they have a stationary character, 4 intersecting ortho- and diagonal directions and various lengths. Wave intersections and superpositions produce uplifting (+), subsiding (-) and neutral (0) regularly disposed tectonic blocks. Their sizes depend on wavelengths. The longest in a globe fundamental wave1 long 2πR is responsible for ubiquitous appearance in all celestial bodies of tectonic dichotomy or segmentation (2πR-structure). The first overtone wave2 produces tectonic sectoring (πR-structure). On this already complex wave structurization are superposed individual waves whose lengths are proportional to orbital periods or inversely proportional to orbital frequencies: higher frequency - smaller waves, lower frequency - larger waves. These waves are responsible for production of tectonic granules. In a row of terrestrial planets according to their orb. fr. sizes of the granules are as follows (this row can be started with the solar photosphere that orbits around the center of the solar system with about one month period): Photosphere πR/60, Mercury πR/16, Venus πR/6, Earth πR/4, Mars πR/2, asteroids πR/1. By this way a bridging is made between planets and stars in that concerns their wave structurization. The calculated granule sizes are rather known in nature. The solar supergranulation about 30-40 thousand km across, prevailing sizes of mercurian craters ˜500 km in diameter (a radar image from Earth), venusian "blobs" ˜3000 km across, superstructures of the Earth's cratons ˜ 5000 km across (seen now on NASA image PIA04159), martian elongated shape due to 2 waves inscribed in equator, asteroids

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. 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

  8. Mercury

    MedlinePlus

    ... the lungs Medicine to remove mercury and heavy metals from the body INORGANIC MERCURY For inorganic mercury ... Baum CR. Mercury: Heavy metals and inorganic agents. In: Shannon MW, ... and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug ...

  9. 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.

  10. Future Mercury Exploration: Unique Science Opportunities from Our Solar System's Innermost Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabot, N. L.; McNutt, R. L.; Blewett, D. T.; Denevi, B. W.; Ernst, C. M.; Mazarico, E.; Jozwiak, L. M.

    2017-02-01

    Mercury is one of only five inner solar system terrestrial bodies, each of which is unique. What properties and processes made these bodies so diverse? Future planetary exploration must include Mercury to make advances on this fundamental question.

  11. James Craig Watson, First Director of Washburn Observatory: His Obsession with the Intra-Mercurial Planet Vulcan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheehan, William

    1996-05-01

    The first director of the Washburn Observatory, Watson began his career at the University of Michigan, where he discovered more than a score of asteroids and planned (but did not live to carry out) the first search for a trans-Neptunian planet. He became a strong supporter of Le Verrier's hypothesis that a planet closer to the Sun than Mercury (Vulcan) was causing the anomalous advance of 38" of arc per century of Mercury's perihelion, and mounted a special search for Vulcan at the July 29, 1878 total eclipse, at Separation, Wyoming, recording two strange reddish stars near the Sun which he assumed were intra-Mercurial bodies. With the exception of Lewis Swift at Denver, Colorado, no one else confirmed his observations, and they were sharply criticized by Clinton College (New York) astronomer C. H. F. Peters. Nevertheless, Watson remained absolutely convinced of what he had seen, and his move from Ann Arbor to Madison in 1879 was partly motivated by the prospects of obtaining better instruments with which to further his search for Vulcan, which became the obsession of his later years. He was in the process of constructing an underground solar observatory from which he hoped to see stars near the Sun in broad daylight when he died, unexpectedly, in 1880. Though it is now known that Vulcan does not exist, Watson's observations at the July 1878 eclipse remain problematic; it is probable that he observed at least one and possibly two pygmy comets in the neighborhood of the Sun.

  12. 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, odorless liquid. If ... with other elements to form powders or crystals. Mercury is in many products. Metallic mercury is used ...

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS OF PLANETS AND QUASI-STELLAR RADIO SOURCES AT 3 MM,

    DTIC Science & Technology

    MERCURY ( PLANET ), VENUS( PLANET ), PERIODIC VARIATIONS, RADIO ASTRONOMY, SPECTRUM SIGNATURES...EXTRATERRESTRIAL RADIO WAVES, SOURCES), GALAXIES, BLACKBODY RADIATION, BRIGHTNESS, TEMPERATURE, MARS( PLANET ), JUPITER( PLANET ), SATURN( PLANET

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. OBSERVATIONS OF PLANETS AND QUASI-STELLAR RADIO SOURCES AT 3 MM.

    DTIC Science & Technology

    EXTRATERRESTRIAL RADIO WAVES), (* PLANETS , STARS, VENUS( PLANET ), MARS( PLANET ), MERCURY ( PLANET ), PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES, GALAXIES, ASTROPHYSICS, TEMPERATURE, MEASUREMENT, MICROWAVE FREQUENCY, ASTRONOMY, RADIO ASTRONOMY.

  20. 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.

  1. 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,…

  2. 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

  3. Extrasolar planets.

    PubMed

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

    2000-11-07

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. FURTHER OBSERVATIONS OF PLANETS AND QUASI-STELLAR RADIO SOURCES AT 3 MM.

    DTIC Science & Technology

    EXTRATERRESTRIAL RADIO WAVES), (* MERCURY ( PLANET ), (*RADIO ASTRONOMY, EXTRATERRESTRIAL RADIO WAVES), PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES, SKY BRIGHTNESS, ANTENNAS...EPHEMERIDES, ASTROPHYSICS, JUPITER( PLANET ), VENUS( PLANET ), BRIGHTNESS, ATMOSPHERIC TEMPERATURE, INTENSITY, MEASUREMENT.

  7. 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.}

  8. 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.

  9. 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.…

  10. The Study of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prockter, Louise M.; Bedini, Peter D.

    2010-01-01

    When the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft enters orbit about Mercury in March 2011 it will begin a new phase in an age-old scientific study of the innermost planet. Despite being visible to the unaided eye, Mercury's proximity to the Sun makes it extremely difficult to observe from Earth. Nonetheless, over the centuries man has pursued a quest to understand the elusive planet, and has teased out information about its motions in the sky, its relation to the other planets, and its physical characteristics. A great leap was made in our understanding of Mercury when the Mariner 10 spacecraft flew past it three times in the mid-1970s, providing a rich set of close-up observations. Now, three decades later, The MESSENGER spacecraft has also visited the planet three times, and is poised to add significantly to the study with a year-long orbital observation campaign.

  11. 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

    2008-07-04

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. Planetary science: Mercury's mysteries start to unfold

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stevenson, David J.

    2012-05-01

    The origin of the planet Mercury has been a continuing puzzle. Data from NASA's MESSENGER space probe, combined with ground-based observations, are delivering information on the planet's structure and evolution.

  14. 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)

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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...

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. On-board calibration of the spectral response functions of the Advanced Baseline Imager's thermal IR channels by observation of the planet Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bremer, James C.

    2010-09-01

    The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) will image Earth in 16 spectral channels, including 10 thermal IR (TIR) channels. The instantaneous field of view (IFOV) of each TIR detector element is (56 μrad)2. The ABI has an onboard fullaperture blackbody, the Internal Calibration Target (ICT), used in conjunction with deep space looks to calibrate the ABI's TIR channels. The ICT is only observed over a small range of temperatures and at one specific pair of reflection angles from the ABI's two scan mirrors. The sunlit area on Mercury's surface underfills the IFOV's of the ABI's TIR channels, but has a much higher range of characteristic temperatures than the ICT, so its radiation is weighted more strongly toward shorter wavelengths. Comparison of a TIR channel's responses to the ICT and to Mercury provides a sensitive means to evaluate variations in spectral response functions among detector elements, across the ABI's field of regard, and among instruments on different satellites. Observations of Mercury can also verify co-registration among the ABI's atmospheric absorption channels that do not observe features on Earth's surface. The optimal conditions for viewing Mercury typically occur during one or two intervals of a few weeks each year when it traverses the ABI's FOR (-10.5o < declination < +10.5o) with an elongation angle from the Sun of at least 20.5o.

  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. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Planet Formation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.; Fonda, Mark (Technical Monitor)

    2002-01-01

    Modern theories of star and planet formation and of the orbital stability of planetary systems are described and used to discuss possible characteristics of undiscovered planetary systems. The most detailed models of planetary growth are based upon observations of planets and smaller bodies within our own Solar System and of 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 as do terrestrial planets, but they become massive enough that they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas before the protoplanetary disk dissipates. 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, and the methods that are being used and planned for detecting and characterizing extrasolar planets are reviewed.

  11. 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.

  12. Migrating Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Murray, N.; Hansen, B.; Holman, M.; Tremaine, S.

    1998-01-01

    A planet orbiting in a disk of planetesimals can experience an instability in which it migrates to smaller orbital radii. Resonant interactions between the planet and planetesimals remove angular momentum from the planetesimals, increasing their eccentricities. Subsequently, the planetesimals either collide with or are ejected by the planet, reducing the semimajor axis of the planet. If the surface density of planetesimals exceeds a critical value, corresponding to 0.03 solar masses of gas inside the orbit of Jupiter, the planet will migrate inward a large distance. This instability may explain the presence of Jupiter-mass objects in small orbits around nearby stars.

  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. MESSENGER'S First Flyby of Mercury

    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. 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. An overview of the MESSENGER mission and its January 14th close flyby of Mercury will be provided. Primary science objectives and the science instrumentation will be described. Initial results from MESSENGER'S first flyby on January 14th, 2008 will be discussed with an emphasis on the magnetic field and charged particle measurements.

  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: Beethoven Quadrangle, H-7

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2000-01-01

    Mercury: Computer Photomosaic of the Beethoven Quadrangle, H-7 The Beethoven Quadrangle, named for the 19th century classical German composer, lies in Mercury's Equatorial Mercator located between longitude 740 to 1440. The Mariner 10 spacecraft imaged the region during its initial flyby of the planet. 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 Beethoven Quadrangle were taken as Mariner 10 flew passed 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.

  17. Mercury's sodium exosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leblanc, F.; Johnson, R. E.

    2003-08-01

    Mercury's neutral sodium exosphere is simulated using a comprehensive 3D Monte Carlo model following sodium atoms ejected from Mercury's surface by thermal desorption, photon stimulated desorption, micro-meteoroid vaporization and solar wind sputtering. The evolution of the sodium surface density with respect to Mercury's rotation and its motion around the Sun is taken into account by considering enrichment processes due to surface trapping of neutrals and ions and depletion of the sodium available for ejection from the surfaces of grains. The change in the sodium exosphere is calculated during one Mercury year taking into account the variations in the solar radiation pressure, the photo-ionization frequency, the solar wind density, the photon and meteoroid flux intensities, and the surface temperature. Line-of-sight column densities at different phase angles, the supply rate of new sodium, average neutral and ion losses over a Mercury year, surface density distribution and the importance of the different processes of ejection are discussed in this paper. The sodium surface density distribution is found to become significantly nonuniform from day to night sides, from low to high latitudes and from morning to afternoon because of rapid depletion of sodium atoms in the surfaces of grains mainly driven by thermal depletion. The shape of the exosphere, as it would be seen from the Earth, changes drastically with respect to Mercury's heliocentric position. High latitude column density maxima are related to maxima in the sodium surface concentration at high latitudes in Mercury's surface and are not necessarily due to solar wind sputtering. The ratio between the sodium column density on the morning side of Mercury's exosphere and the sodium column density on the afternoon side is consistent with the conclusions of Sprague et al. (1997, Icarus 129, 506-527). The model, which has no fitting parameters, shows surprisingly good agreement with recent observations of Potter et

  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.

  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 poisoning].

    PubMed

    Bensefa-Colas, L; Andujar, P; Descatha, A

    2011-07-01

    Mercury is a widespread heavy metal with potential severe impacts on human health. Exposure conditions to mercury and profile of toxicity among humans depend on the chemical forms of the mercury: elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic or organic mercury compounds. This article aims to reviewing and synthesizing the main knowledge of the mercury toxicity and its organic compounds that clinicians should know. Acute inhalation of metallic or inorganic mercury vapours mainly induces pulmonary diseases, whereas chronic inhalation rather induces neurological or renal disorders (encephalopathy and interstitial or glomerular nephritis). Methylmercury poisonings from intoxicated food occurred among some populations resulting in neurological disorders and developmental troubles for children exposed in utero. Treatment using chelating agents is recommended in case of symptomatic acute mercury intoxication; sometimes it improves the clinical effects of chronic mercury poisoning. Although it is currently rare to encounter situations of severe intoxication, efforts remain necessary to decrease the mercury concentration in the environment and to reduce risk on human health due to low level exposure (dental amalgam, fish contamination by organic mercury compounds…). In case of occupational exposure to mercury and its compounds, some disorders could be compensated in France. Clinicians should work with toxicologists for the diagnosis and treatment of mercury intoxication.

  4. 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,

  5. 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

    2010-08-06

    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.

  6. Characterization of Mercury's Space Environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Laurenza, Monica; Storini, Marisa; Diego, Piero; Massetti, Stefano

    2015-04-01

    Data from the Helios spacecraft have been revised to identify different solar wind conditions (interplanetary magnetic field intensity, solar wind density, velocity and temperature) at Mercury's location, as they induce critcal changes in the Hermean environment. In particular, the weak magnetic field of the planet and the increasing weight of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) BX component at Mercury's orbit, introduce critical differences in the Mercury magnetosphere, such as a strong north-south asymmetry. Different geometries of the Mercury's magnetosphere are also calculated as response to the different solar wind conditions through aToffoletto-Hill modified model (Massetti et al., 2007). Results allow to compute the cutoff rigidities, in order to estimate the energetic charged particle transmission through the Hermean magnetosphere to the specific location of the BepiColombo spacecraft Work partly supported by the Italian Space Agency

  7. 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.

  8. 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...

  9. The Low-Degree Shape of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, M. E.; Neumann, G. A.; Mazarico, E.; Hauck, S. A., II; Solomon, S. C.; Zuber, M. T.; Smith, D. E.; Phillips, R. J.; Margot, J. L.; Johnson, C. L.; Ernst, C. M.; Oberst, J.

    2015-12-01

    The shape of Mercury, particularly when combined with its geoid, provides clues to the planet's internal structure, thermal evolution, and rotational history. Twenty-five million elevation measurements of the northern hemisphere, acquired by the Mercury Laser Altimeter on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft, were combined with 378 occultation measurements of radio-frequency signals from the spacecraft in the planet's southern hemisphere to reveal the low-degree shape of Mercury. We solved for the spherical-harmonic coefficients through degree and order 128 and found that Mercury's mean radius is 2439.36±0.02 km. The offset between the planet's centers of mass and figure is negligible (40±40 m) along the polar axis and modest (140±50 m) in the equatorial plane. Mercury's spherical-harmonic shape spectrum is dominated by degree 2, and the planet's first-order shape is that of a triaxial ellipsoid with semimajor axes a, b, and c. The polar radius, c, is 1.65 km less than (a+b)/2, and the equatorial difference, a-b, is 1.25 km. The long axis is rotated 15° west of Mercury's dynamically defined principal axis. Mercury's geoid is similarly dominated by degree 2 and well described by a triaxial ellipsoid. The degree-2 geoid and shape are highly correlated, but the power spectral density of the geoid at degree 2 is only 1% of its shape counterpart, implying substantial compensation of elevation variations on a global scale and that Mercury is not in hydrostatic equilibrium.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. The Microlensing Planet Search Program of the WFIRST Mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bennett, David P.

    2011-01-01

    The recently Decadal Survey report, "New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics" recommends a new mission called WFIRST as its top ranked large space mission for the next decade. The WFIRST mission is to have two major science programs that will drive the design requirements: a dark energy program and a microlensing planet search program. WFIRST's microlensing planet search program will provide a statistical census of exoplanets with masses greater than one tenth of an Earth mass and orbital separations ranging from 0.5AU to infinity. This includes analogs to all the Solar System's planets except for Mercury, as well as most types of planets predicted by planet formation theories. In combination with Kepler's census of planets in shorter period orbits, WFIRST's planet search program will provide a complete statistical census of the planets that populate our Galaxy.

  14. The Microlensing Planet Search Program of the WFIRST Mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bennett, David P.

    2010-10-01

    The recently Decadal Survey report, "New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics" recommends a new mission called WFIRST as its top ranked large space mission for the next decade. The WFIRST mission is to have two major science programs that will drive the design requirements: a dark energy program and a microlensing planet search program. WFIRST's microlensing planet search program will provide a statistical census of exoplanets with masses greater than one tenth of an Earth mass and orbital separations ranging from 0.5AU to infinity. This includes analogs to all the Solar System's planets except for Mercury, as well as most types of planets predicted by planet formation theories. In combination with Kepler's census of planets in shorter period orbits, WFIRST's planet search program will provide a complete statistical census of the planets that populate our Galaxy.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. The Origin of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benz, W.; Anic, A.; Horner, J.; Whitby, J. A.

    Mercury's unusually high mean density has always been attributed to special circumstances that occurred during the formation of the planet or shortly thereafter, and due to the planet's close proximity to the Sun. The nature of these special circumstances is still being debated and several scenarios, all proposed more than 20 years ago, have been suggested. In all scenarios, the high mean density is the result of severe fractionation occurring between silicates and iron. It is the origin of this fractionation that is at the centre of the debate: is it due to differences in condensation temperature and/or in material characteristics (e.g. density, strength)? Is it because of mantle evaporation due to the close proximity to the Sun? Or is it due to the blasting off of the mantle during a giant impact?

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  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. Evolution of Mercury's Obliquity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yseboodt, M.; Margot, J. L.

    2005-05-01

    Mercury has a near-zero obliquity, i.e. its spin axis is nearly perpendicular to its orbital plane. In order to constrain the size of the planet's core with the framework suggested by Peale (1976), the obliquity must be known precisely. Rambaux and Bois (2004) have suggested that Mercury's obliquity varies on thousand-year timescales due to planetary perturbations, potentially ruining the feasibility of Peale's experiment. We use a Hamiltonian approach (free of energy dissipation) to study the spin-orbit evolution of Mercury subject to planetary perturbations. We can reproduce an obliquity evolution similar to that of Rambaux and Bois (2004) if we introduce the planetary perturbations abruptly, i.e. by a step function. But if we introduce the planetary effects smoothly starting from an equilibrium position corresponding to the Cassini state (where the spin axis, the normal to the invariable plane and the normal to the orbital plane are aligned), the thousand-year oscillations in the obliquity do not appear. We find an equilibrium value for the obliquity of ˜1.6 arcmin for (B-A)/C = 1.2 10-4 and (C-A)/C = 2.4 10-4, which are combinations of the moments of inertia corresponding to the Mariner 10 gravity data. Our results indicate that planetary perturbations do not force short-period oscillations in Mercury's obliquity, even though such oscillations may appear in numerical integrations involving artificial departures from the Cassini state or the sudden onset of perturbations. Peale (2004) has shown that the periods of damping of the free motions (free precession or free libration) are short compared to the age of the solar system, such that oscillations in obliquity are expected to decay. In the absence of excitation processes, Mercury's obliquity will remain constant, suggesting that one of the important conditions for the success of Peale's experiment is realized.

  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. 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.

  8. 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

    2008-07-04

    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.

  9. Uncratered Area on Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    A dark, smooth, relatively uncratered area on Mercury was photographed (FDS 226) two hours after Mariner 10 flew by the planet on March 29 from a range of 86,000 kilometers (54,000 miles). Above and to the left of center is a surface similar to the mane material of Earth's moon. It embays and covers rougher, older, heavily cratered topography like that, which can be seen in both upper corners of this picture. The history of heavy cratering seems to be followed by volcanic filling, similar to the process on the Moon. The prominent, sharp crater with a central peak (center) is 30 kilometers (19 miles) across. It is located on the upper left edge of a very bright surface area. The bright crater, to its right is 10 kilometers (6 miles) in diameter. The sun is from the right.

    The Mariner 10 mission, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, explored Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury-in March and September 1974 and in March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 photos of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon.

    Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University

  10. Mercury's Densely Cratered Surface

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    Mariner 10 took this picture (FDS 27465) of the densely cratered surface of Mercury when the spacecraft was 18,200 kilometers (8085 miles) from the planet on March 29. The dark line across top of picture is a 'dropout' of a few TV lines of data. At lower left, a portion of a 61 kilometer (38 mile) crater shows a flow front extending across the crater floor and filling more than half of the crater. The smaller, fresh crater at center is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) in diameter. Craters as small as one kilometer (about one-half mile) across are visible in the picture.

    The Mariner 10 mission, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, explored Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury-in March and September 1974 and in March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 photos of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon.

    Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University

  11. Mercury's Magnetic Field

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, C. L.

    2014-12-01

    Mercury is the only inner solar system body other than Earth to possess an active core dynamo-driven magnetic field and the only planet with a small, highly dynamic magnetosphere. Measurements made by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft have provided a wealth of data on Mercury's magnetic field environment. Mercury's weak magnetic field was discovered 40 years ago by the Mariner 10 spacecraft, but its large-scale geometry, strength and origin could not be definitively established. MESSENGER data have shown that the field is dynamo-generated and can be described as an offset axisymmetric dipole field (hereafter OAD): the magnetic equator lies ~0.2 RM (RM = 2440 km) north of the geographic equator and the dipole moment is 2.8 x1019 Am2 (~0.03% that of Earth's). The weak internal field and the high, but variable, solar wind ram pressure drive vigorous magnetospheric dynamics and result in an average distance from the planet center to the sub-solar magnetopause of only 1.42 RM. Magnetospheric models developed with MESSENGER data have allowed re-analysis of the Mariner 10 observations, establishing that there has been no measureable secular variation in the internal field over 40 years. Together with spatial power spectra for the OAD, this provides critical constraints for viable dynamo models. Time-varying magnetopause fields induce secondary core fields, the magnitudes of which confirm the core radius estimated from MESSENGER gravity and Earth-based radar data. After accounting for large-scale magnetospheric fields, residual signatures are dominated by additional external fields that are organized in the local time frame and that vary with magnetospheric activity. Birkeland currents have been identified, which likely close in the planetary interior at depths below the base of the crust. Near-periapsis magnetic field measurements at altitudes greater than 200 km have tantalizing hints of crustal fields, but crustal

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. The Limiting Sizes of the Habitable Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Huang, Su-Shu

    1960-01-01

    The astrobiological problem of the occurrence of life in the universe is discussed from the standpoint of the size and nature of planets upon which living organisms might arise. The conclusion is tentatively drawn that the most likely radius of a habitable planet lies between 10(exp 8) cm and 2 x 10(exp 9) cm. Conditions of temperature and density also bear upon the occurrence of life; thus the moon and Mercury, although both fall within the range of favorable radii, are nevertheless believed uninhabited by indigeneous life.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. Mercury. [Mariner 10 observations and planetary properties

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

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

    1977-01-01

    Information about Mercury obtained with the Mariner 10 spacecraft is summarized together with results of theoretical studies and ground-based observations. It is shown that Mercury is very likely a differentiated body, probably contains a large earthlike iron-rich core, and displays a surface similar to the moon's, which suggests a similar evolutionary history. The size and mass of Mercury are discussed along with its orbit, rotation, atmosphere, magnetic field, and magnetosphere. Surface features of Mercury are described on the basis of Mariner 10 pictures, with detailed attention given to the major physiographic provinces, the structure of the Caloris basin, the tectonic framework of the planet, crater morphology, the planet's optical and thermal properties, and cartography. The composition and structure of the interior are examined, and the thermal history of Mercury is considered. The planet's geologic history is divided into five stages or epochs: (1) accretion and differentiation, (2) terminal heavy bombardment, (3) Caloris basin formation, (4) basin flooding, and (5) postfilling lighter bombardment.

  18. Isotropic Contraction Of Mercury Due To Despinning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Matsuyama, Isamu; Bills, B. G.

    2009-09-01

    Mercury's slow rotation period of 59 days is presumably the result of solar tides driving its initial rotational state to the present 3:2 spin-orbit resonance. The observed large gravity coefficients can be explained as due to a remnant rotational bulge recording an initial rotation period of a few days (Matsuyama and Nimmo 2009). Despinning changes the shape of the rotational bulge, generating both compressional and extensional stresses (Melosh 1977). However, Mercury's surface is dominated by compressional tectonic features (Watters et al. 1998), and the inferred global contraction has been explained as due to thermal cooling (Solomon 1976). In addition to non-isotropic changes associated with the rotational flattening, despinning causes isotropic contraction of the entire planet. We consider the effect of the compressional stresses generated by this isotropic contraction on the predicted tectonic pattern. References Matsuyama and Nimmo. Gravity and tectonic patterns of Mercury: Effect of tidal deformation, spin-orbit resonance, nonzero eccentricity, despinning, and reorientation. J. Geophys. Res. (2009) vol. 114 pp. E01010 Melosh. Global tectonics of a despun planet. Icarus (1977) vol. 31 pp. 221-243 Solomon. Some aspects of core formation in Mercury. Icarus (1976) vol. 28 pp. 509-521 Watters et al. Topography of lobate scarps on Mercury: New constraints on the planet's contraction. Geology (1998) vol. 26 pp. 991-994

  19. A comprehensive study of Mercury and MESSENGER orbit determination

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Genova, Antonio; Mazarico, Erwan; Goossens, Sander; Lemoine, Frank G.; Neumann, Gregory A.; Nicholas, Joseph B.; Rowlands, David D.; Smith, David E.; Zuber, Maria; Solomon, Sean C.

    2016-10-01

    The MErcury, Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft orbited the planet Mercury for more than 4 years. The probe started its science mission in orbit around Mercury on 18 March 2011. The Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and radio science system were the instruments dedicated to geodetic observations of the topography, gravity field, orientation, and tides of Mercury. X-band radio-tracking range-rate 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 extensive range data acquired in orbit around Mercury during the science mission (from April 2011 to April 2015), and during the three flybys of the planet in 2008 and 2009, provide a powerful dataset for the investigation of Mercury's ephemeris. The proximity of Mercury's orbit to the Sun leads to a significant perihelion precession attributable to the gravitational flattening of the Sun (J2) and the Parameterized Post-Newtonian (PPN) coefficients γ and β, which describe the space curvature produced by a unit rest mass and the nonlinearity in superposition of gravity, respectively. Therefore, the estimation of Mercury's ephemeris can provide crucial information on the interior structure of the Sun and Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, the high correlation among J2, γ, and β complicates the combined recovery of these parameters, so additional assumptions are required, such as the Nordtvedt relationship η = 4β - γ - 3.We have modified our orbit determination software, GEODYN II, to enable the simultaneous integration of the spacecraft and central body trajectories. The combined estimation of the MESSENGER and Mercury orbits allowed us to determine a more accurate gravity field, orientation, and tides of Mercury, and the values of GM and J2 for the Sun, where G is the gravitational constant and M is the solar mass

  20. Mercury: infrared evidence for nonsynchronous rotation.

    PubMed

    Soter, S L

    1966-09-02

    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.

  1. Mercury orbiter - an interdisciplinary mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grard, R.; Scoon, G.; Coradini, M.

    Mercury is the innermost and a less known terrestrial planet of the Solar System. It possesses a very high density (5.3 g/cu cm at 10 kbar), a small but unexpected magnetic moment (6 x 10-3 that of Earth), and a tenuous exosphere; ground-based radar observations indicate that water ice may exist at the poles. There are still fundamental questions about its accretion and catering history, and its thermal and chemical evolution. The size of Mercury's magnetosphere is just 5% of that of Earth; substorms last 5 min, on average, and their generation process is influenced by the absence of an ionosphere. The model payload of Mercury Orbiter includes a multi-spectral imager, a gamma-and X -ray detector, a magnetometer, charged-particle analysers, a wave receiver and an ion emitter for spacecraft potential control. The spacecraft, the design of which is inherited from ESA's Cluster spacecraft, has a dry mass of 626 kg and is stabilized at 10 rmp, but the telemetry antenna is despun. The bit rate varies between 1.4 and 9 kb/s over the range 1.6-0.64 AU. The spacecraft, launched from Kourou with an Ariane-5, reaches its destination after two gravity assists at Venus and two at Mercury. Its orbit is polar with periherm and apherm altitudes of 400 and 16 800 km, respectively. The spacecraft's operating lifetime around Mercury is 3 Hermean years.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Our present view of Mercury and Venus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Danielson, G. E., Jr.

    1975-01-01

    The discipline of planetology received a quantum jump in new information on the planets Mercury and Venus from the Mariner 10 spacecraft. A detailed look at the ultraviolet markings in the upper atmosphere of Venus and their attendant motion has stimulated a considerable reevaluation of theories concerning the circulation, composition, and nature of this planet's upper atmosphere. The geologic history of Mercury as revealed by Mariner 10's television science data, from two close flybys, has challenged the prevalent theories of planetary evolution. The Mercury surface morphology and optical properties resemble those of the moon and seem to record a similar sequence of events despite their differences in density and proximity to both the sun and the asteroid belt.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

    2008-07-04

    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.

  9. Lateral Viscosity Variations and the Contractional History of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mohit, P. S.; Phillips, R. J.; Johnson, C. L.; Hauck, S. A.; Zuber, M. T.; Neumann, G. A.; Solomon, S. C.

    2008-12-01

    The lobate scarps of Mercury bear witness to the history of contraction of a cooling planet. Previous models of the contraction of Mercury were for a one-dimensional mechanical model in which outermost crust of the planet is assumed to be elastic. However, the time-averaged surface temperature of Mercury varies strongly with both latitude and longitude due to the pattern of solar insolation over the planet, influenced by the planet's 3:2 spin-orbit resonant state, near-zero obliquity, and eccentric orbit about the Sun. The variation in surface temperature produces variations in lithospheric thickness and viscosity structure that may affect the patterns of deformation and faulting due to contraction. We explore this issue using a semi-analytic, spherical viscoelastic model that incorporates lateral variations of viscosity. Results suggest that temporal and spatial variations in lithospheric thickness during contraction affect the response of the planet. In particular, for contraction occurring relatively late in the presence of a thick lithosphere, the lithosphere deforms at the longest wavelengths, bowing outward where it is thinnest -at low latitudes for Mercury, particularly the areas around the equatorial "hot poles" that face the Sun at perihelion. We couple this model to thermal evolution calculations to simulate the effects of different core evolution scenarios. Topographic data returned by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) from MESSENGER's first flyby of Mercury in January demonstrate the existence of a long-wavelength slope along the equator, and many new lobate scarps were documented from MESSENGER images. After MESSENGER's second flyby in October, nearly the entire planet will have been imaged by spacecraft. Information on the long-wavelength shape of the planet, the distribution and orientation of lobate scarps, and their relation to other geological features, together with model results, will provide new constraints on the timing of global contraction

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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...

  15. JANUS, A Proposed Pathfinder Mission to Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Curtis, S. A.; Clark, P. E.; Giles, B.; Eyerman, C.; Marr, G.; Winterhalter, D.; Janus Mercury Pathfinder Mission Team

    1998-09-01

    Despite the Mariner 10 flybys and decades of ground-based observations, the planet Mercury remains the most poorly understood inner planet although it could potentially provide essential information on the evolution and origin of the solar system. JANUS, a mission proposed for the NASA Discovery Program, is an extremely fast, low cost, low risk, multiple flyby, four platform pathfinder to Mercury which would provide this essential data and complete the exploration of both hemispheres. JANUS studies Mercury and its environment as a system by simultaneously exploring its interior, surface, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. After a direct transfer orbit from Earth, the first dayside equatorial encounter with Mercury is 115 days post-launch, and includes the release of three Remote Experiment Packages (REPs) targeted for north and south poles and the magnetotail. This encounter provides the fist direct compositional measurements of Mercury and simultaneous multi-point modeling of its magnetic field. Perihelion engine burn following this encounter places the main spacecraft in a 264 day orbit allowing view of alternate sunlit faces of Mercury at each encounter. By the end of the second encounter (one year post-launch), the first photospectral map of the entire planet and a completed set of previously mission compositional constraints for inner solar system, core, and planetary formation is produced. The third encounter, less than two years post-launch, takes the spacecraft over the south pole in search of polar volatiles. JANUS features an experienced, integrated science team and a robust instrumentation package: imaging, X-ray, UV, and neutron spectrometers, energetic particle and electric field detectors, magnetometer, low energy plasma analyzer, and search coil on the main spacecraft, and duplicates of the last three instruments on each REP. JANUS is a true pathfinder, completing the primary exploration of Mercury and forging the path for future GSFC/JPL partnerships.

  16. Updating the Magnitudes of the Planets in The Astronomical Almanac

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-01-01

    USNO/AA Technical Note 2003-04 Updating the Magnitudes of the Planets in The Astronomical Almanac James L. Hilton The content of this Tech...the magnitudes of Mercury and Venus used in the AsA 2005 and 2006. Report Documentation Page Form ApprovedOMB No. 0704-0188 Public reporting burden...SUBTITLE Updating The Magnitudes Of The Planets In The Astronomical Almanac 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT NUMBER 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER 6

  17. 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.

  18. Mercury - Internal structure and thermal evolution

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Siegfried, R. W., II; Solomon, S. C.

    1974-01-01

    Mercury's thermal evolution and internal structure are modeled based on the planet's gross physical properties (which imply a high metallic iron content) and predictions for its chemistry made from the Lewis-Cameron model of condensation of the primitive solar nebula (which implies that Mercury may be composed only of those materials that condensed at temperatures near that of metallic iron condensation in the cooling nebula). Various heat sources, initial temperatures, and thermal conductivities are considered for a homogeneous model and a differentiated two-layer model. Density distributions are calculated from the mean density and estimates of the present-day temperature. The moment of inertia and the hydrostatic value of the second degree harmonic coefficient of Mercury's gravity field are found for the differentiated and undifferentiated models. These results should be useful for preliminary interpretation of the Mariner 10 measurements of Mercury's gravitational field.

  19. The Giant Planet Satellite Exospheres

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McGrath, M. A.

    2014-12-01

    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., Io, 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Interior Structure and Evolution of the Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hubbard, W. B.

    Basic Concepts Presumed initial composition Comparison with stellar structure Structure of Cold Bodies T=O thermodynamics The P--> infinity limit (white dwarfs) Finite pressure theories Experimental data at high pressure The radius-mass diagram Heat Flow Review of data The Kelvin mechanism Differentiation Radioactivity Tidal Heating Other Diagnostics of Interior Structure Response to rotation Tidal response Magnetic field The Terrestrial Planets The earth and the moon Mercury Venus Mars Summary The Jovian Planets Jupiter A fundamental solar composition reference? Thermal structure and heat flow Evolution of Jupiter Saturn Differences with Jupiter Heat flow Uranus and Neptune Key differences with Jupiter and with each other Thermal structure and heat flow Jovian Planet Satellites Io's heat flow and its relation to Jupiter's structure The Galilean satellites and their relation to Jupiter's origin Conclusion References

  3. 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.

  4. Experimental investigation into the thermal and magmatic evolution of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vander Kaaden, Kathleen E.

    During the time that the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft was in orbit around the innermost planet, new and exciting results regarding the planets structure, chemical makeup, and diverse surface were revealed, confirming that Mercury is a geochemical endmember among the terrestrial planets. Data from this mission, more specifically data from the X-Ray Spectrometer and Gamma-Ray Spectrometer onboard MESSENGER, has been used to provide insight into the thermal and magmatic evolution of Mercury. This dissertation consists of five chapters that, as a whole, have substantially increased our knowledge about Mercury through a high pressure and high temperature experimental investigation. First, we identified nine distinct geochemical regions that have characteristic major element compositions. We computed silicate and sulfide mineralogy of these regions and petrologically classified them according to IUGS specifications. The diversity of the rocks and minerals on Mercury was then compared to other planetary bodies revealing the wide range in diversity of the mercurian surface. Second, we conducted sink-float experiments on a melt composition similar to the composition of the largest volcanic field on the planet to provide insight into crust formation on Mercury. These results suggested a primary floatation crust composed of graphite is possible given a magma ocean event on Mercury. Third, we experimentally determined the phase assemblages associated with the largest volcanic field on the planet. From this data we were able to provide insight into eruption scenarios that produced the northern volcanic plains on Mercury. Fourth, we determined the sulfide concentration at sulfide saturation in mercurian-like melts by conducting sulfide solubility experiments on a synthetic rock composition matching the northern volcanic plains. These results indicated that the high amounts of sulfur on the surface of Mercury measured by

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. A Google Earth Grand Tour of the Terrestrial Planets

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    De Paor, Declan; Coba, Filis; Burgin, Stephen

    2016-01-01

    Google Earth is a powerful instructional resource for geoscience education. We have extended the virtual globe to include all terrestrial planets. Downloadable Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files (Google Earth's scripting language) associated with this paper include lessons about Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and Mars. We created "grand…

  8. A Laser-Ablation Mass Spectrometer for the Surface of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whitby, J. A.; Rohner, U.; Benz, W.; Wurz, P.

    2003-03-01

    A snapshot of the development of an instrument capable of making in situ elemental and isotopic measurements on the surface of a rocky planet or planetesimal. Designed with the BepiColombo mission to Mercury in mind.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. The Origin of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Benz, W.; Anic, A.; Horner, J.; Whitby, J. A.

    2007-10-01

    Mercury’s unusually high mean density has always been attributed to special circumstances that occurred during the formation of the planet or shortly thereafter, and due to the planet’s close proximity to the Sun. The nature of these special circumstances is still being debated and several scenarios, all proposed more than 20 years ago, have been suggested. In all scenarios, the high mean density is the result of severe fractionation occurring between silicates and iron. It is the origin of this fractionation that is at the centre of the debate: is it due to differences in condensation temperature and/or in material characteristics (e.g. density, strength)? Is it because of mantle evaporation due to the close proximity to the Sun? Or is it due to the blasting off of the mantle during a giant impact? In this paper we investigate, in some detail, the fractionation induced by a giant impact on a proto-Mercury having roughly chondritic elemental abundances. We have extended the previous work on this hypothesis in two significant directions. First, we have considerably increased the resolution of the simulation of the collision itself. Second, we have addressed the fate of the ejecta following the impact by computing the expected reaccretion timescale and comparing it to the removal timescale from gravitational interactions with other planets (essentially Venus) and the Poynting Robertson effect. To compute the latter, we have determined the expected size distribution of the condensates formed during the cooling of the expanding vapor cloud generated by the impact. We find that, even though some ejected material will be reaccreted, the removal of the mantle of proto-Mercury following a giant impact can indeed lead to the required long-term fractionation between silicates and iron and therefore account for the anomalously high mean density of the planet. Detailed coupled dynamical chemical modeling of this formation mechanism should be carried out in such a way as to

  12. Impact vaporization as a source of calcium in Mercury's exosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Killen, R.; Hahn, J.

    2014-07-01

    Mercury is surrounded by a surface-bounded exosphere with six known components, H, He, Na, K, Ca, and Mg. Both Ca and Mg are of extreme temperature and with a source concentrated on the dawn side. Calcium has been observed in Mercury's exosphere for the past two decades, having been discovered by Bida et al. (2000) using the Keck telescope on Mauna Kea. Observations of the Ca exosphere of Mercury show that the Ca abundance varies in a periodic way with Mercury's orbital longitude (Burger et al., 2014). Note that Mercury's orbit is quite eccentric, e=0.2, so this planet's radial excursions through the interplanetary dust particle (IDP) complex are substantial, ± 20 %, and the observed Ca signal is in fact correlated with the planet's periodic heliocentric distance. It has been suggested that impact vaporization of interplanetary dust striking the planet might be responsible for the periodic variations in Mercury's exospheric Na (Kameda et al., 2009). Note that if IDP impacts are the dominant source of Ca then one might expect the exospheric Ca signal to be maximal when Mercury is at periapse and the heliocentric dust density would be greatest. However the observed Ca signal is instead maximal when Mercury has traveled about 25 degrees past periapse, and two possible explanations come to mind. (i.) Mercury has a fairly high inclination, 7 degrees, so its vertical motion might be a fair fraction of the dust-complex's vertical thickness. If so then the site of maximum IDP density along Mercury's orbit will be sensitive to the longitude where Mercury's vertical motion carries it across the dust-disk's midplane. (ii.) Alternatively, Mercury's seasonal Ca signal might be influenced by a cometary meteor shower, which would occur if the planet passes through a cometary dust trail; such trails are composed of relatively large dust grains that slowly drift radially due to the Poynting-Robertson drag. This dust is still confined to the comet's orbital plane, so a meteor

  13. 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

  14. 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...

  15. Indicators: Sediment Mercury

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    Sediment mercury is mercury that has become embedded into the bottom substrates of aquatic ecosystems. Mercury is a common pollutant of aquatic ecosystems and it can have a substantial impact on both human and wildlife health.

  16. 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

  17. MESSENGER: The Discovery Mission to Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McNutt, R. L.; Solomon, S. C.; Gold, R. E.; Domingue, D. L.

    2004-12-01

    NASA's MErcury, Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochenistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, launched on 3 August 2004, has begun its voyage to initiate a new era in our understanding of the terrestrial planets. The mission, spacecraft, and payload are designed to answer six fundamental questions regarding the innermost planet: What planetary formational processes led to Mercury's high metal/silicate ratio? What is the geological history of Mercury? What are the nature and origin of Mercury's magnetic field? What are the structure and state of Mercury's core? What are the radar-reflective materials at Mercury's poles? What are the important volatile species and their sources and sinks on and near Mercury? Planet formational hypotheses will be tested by measuring the surface abundances of major elements by X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometry. The geological history will be determined from high-resolution color imaging of the heavily cratered highlands, intercrater plains, and smooth plains. MESSENGER will provide detailed views of both the Caloris basin and its antipodal terrain. Topographic, mineralogical, and elemental abundance data will be used to seek evidence of volcanic features and units. Measurement of Mercury's magnetic field and its interaction with the solar wind will distinguish the intrinsic dipole and quadrupole components while separating these from the current systems driven by solar-wind-induced convection. The structure of the internal field will put constraints on dynamo models. Such models will also be constrained by measuring Mercury's libration to determine the extent of a fluid outer core. Both water ice and sulfur have been postulated as major constituents of the high-radar-backscatter polar deposits. MESSENGER will combine gamma-ray and neutron spectrometry of the surface with ultraviolet spectrometry and in situ particle measurements to detect both neutral and charged species originating from the surface. Such measurements will address the

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Explaining Mercury's peculiar magnetic field

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wicht, Johannes; Cao, Hao; Heyner, Daniel; Dietrich, Wieland; Christensen, Ulrich R.

    2014-05-01

    MESSENGER magnetometer data revealed that Mercury's magnetic field is not only particularly weak but also has a peculiar geometry. The MESSENGER team finds that the location of the magnetic equator always lies significantly north of the geographic equator, is largely independent of the distance to the planet, and also varies only weakly with longitude. The field is best described by an axial dipole that is offset to the north by about 20% of the planetary radius. In terms of classical Gauss coefficients, this translates into a low axial dipole component of g10= -190 nT but a relatively large axial quadrupole contribution that amounts to roughly 40% of this value. The axial octupole is also sizable while higher harmonic contributions are much weaker. Very remarkable is also the fact that the equatorial dipole contribution is very small, consistent with a dipole tilt below 0.8 degree, and this is also true for the other non-axisymmetic field contributions. We analyze several numerical dynamos concerning their capability of explaining Mercury's magnetic field. Classical schemes geared to model the geomagnetic field typically show a much weaker quadrupole component and thus a smaller offset. The onset only becomes larger when the dynamo operates in the multipolar regime at higher Rayleigh numbers. However, since the more complex dynamics generally promotes all higher multipole contributions the location of the magnetic equator varies strongly with longitude and distance to the planet. The situation improves when introducing a stably stratified outer layer in the dynamo region, representing either a rigid FeS layer or a sub-adiabatic core-mantle boundary heat flux. This layer filters out the higher harmonic contributions and the field not only becomes sufficiently weak but also assumes a Mercury like offset geometry during a few percent of the simulation time. To increase the likelihood for the offset configuration, the north-south symmetry must be permanently broken

  3. 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

    2007-05-04

    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.

  4. Space Environment of Mercury at the Time of the First MESSENGER Flyby: Solar Wind and Interplanetary Magnetic Field Modeling of Upstream Conditions

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2009-10-01

    passed over the planet (and MESSENGER) several days prior to the flyby of Mercury with the highest-speed (600 km/s) stream features having been expected...when MESSENGER is in orbit around Mercury , the spacecraft will be within the magnetosphere and magnetotail of the planet for extended portions of...TITLE AND SUBTITLE Space environment of Mercury at the time of the first 3HESSENGER flyby: Solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field •Modeling

  5. Revisiting the Capture of Mercury into Its 3:2 Spin-orbit Resonance

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2014-01-01

    well before differentiation. Keywords. celestial mechanics, planets and satellites: individual ( Mercury ) 1. Previous studies In the literature hitherto...2014 2. REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED 00-00-2014 to 00-00-2014 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Revisiting the capture of Mercury into its 3:2 spin-orbit...Astronomical Union 2014 doi:10.1017/S1743921314007765 Revisiting the capture of Mercury into its 3:2 spin-orbit resonance Benôıt Noyelles1, Julien

  6. 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.

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

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

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

    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 variation but there is little or no year-to-year variation; we do not see the episodic variability reported by ground-based observers. We used these altitude profiles to make estimates of sodium density and temperature. The bulk of the exosphere is about 1200 K, 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.

  8. Constraining the primordial orbits of the terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brasser, R.; Walsh, K. J.; Nesvorný, D.

    2013-08-01

    late giant planet migration scenario that initially had five giant planets rather than four had a higher probability of satisfying the orbital constraints of the terrestrial planets. Assuming late migration, we predict that Mars was initially on an eccentric and inclined orbit while the orbits of Mercury, Venus and Earth were more circular and coplanar. The lower primordial dynamical excitement and the peculiar partitioning between planets impose new constraints for terrestrial planet formation simulations.

  9. Perils of a Restless Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zebrowski, Ernest, Jr.

    1999-05-01

    From epidemics and earthquakes to tornados and tidal waves, the overwhelming power of nature never ceases to instill humankind with both terror and awe. As natural disasters continue to claim human lives and leave destruction in their wake, Perils of a Restless Planet examines our attempts to understand and anticipate such phenomena. Now available in paperback, this highly acclaimed book draws on actual events from ancient to present times. Coverage focuses on basic scientific inquiry, technological innovation and, ultimately, public policy to provide a lucid and riveting look at the natural events that have shaped our view of natural disasters. While shedding light on the elusive quality of nature's intermittent tantrums and the limits scientific study and laboratory replication impose on our understanding of its mercurial ways, the author extrapolates from the history of science to suggest how we may someday learn to warn and protect the vulnerable populations on our small, tempestuous planet. Compelling and informative, this book will find readers both in and outside of the scientific community.

  10. Comments on the origin of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaula, W. M.

    1976-01-01

    The ratio between the mass of condensed matter in Mercury's nebular zone and the final mass of condensed matter in the planet is calculated, and the result suggests that condensed matter equal to more than 10 times the planet's mass was lost from that zone. Five hypotheses to account for this loss are considered: (1) the temperature in Mercury's zone was appreciably higher than the suggested value of 1400 K, (2) the excess was expelled by solar mass outflow, (3) the excess was dragged down by the sun during its contraction, (4) the excess was knocked out by Jupiter-perturbed planetesimals, and (5) the excess was knocked out by earth- and Venus-perturbed planetesimals. The plausibility of each hypothesis is examined, and it is concluded that only planetesimal scattering by earth and Venus appears to be ruled out

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Scientific objectives and instrumentation of Mercury Plasma Particle Experiment (MPPE) onboard MMO

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saito, Y.; Sauvaud, J. A.; Hirahara, M.; Barabash, S.; Delcourt, D.; Takashima, T.; Asamura, K.; BepiColombo MMO/MPPE Team

    2010-01-01

    Mercury is one of the least explored planets in our solar system. Until the recent flyby of Mercury by MESSENGER, no spacecraft had visited Mercury since Mariner 10 made three flybys: two in 1974 and one in 1975. In order to elucidate the detailed plasma structure and dynamics around Mercury, an orbiter BepiColombo MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter) is planned to be launched in 2013 as a joint mission between ESA and ISAS/JAXA. Mercury Plasma Particle Experiment (MPPE) was proposed in order to investigate the plasma/particle environment around Mercury. MPPE is a comprehensive instrument package for plasma, high-energy particle and energetic neutral atom measurements. It consists of seven sensors: two Mercury electron analyzers (MEA1 and MEA2), Mercury ion analyzer (MIA), Mercury mass spectrum analyzer (MSA), high-energy particle instrument for electron (HEP-ele), high-energy particle instrument for ion (HEP-ion), and energetic neutrals analyzer (ENA). Since comprehensive full three-dimensional simultaneous measurements of low to high-energy ions and electrons around Mercury as well as measurements of energetic neutral atoms will not be realized before BepiColombo/MMO's arrival at Mercury, it is expected that many unresolved problems concerning the Mercury magnetosphere will be elucidated by the MPPE observation.

  20. Substorm Current Wedge at Earth and Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kepko, L.; Glassmeier, K.-H.; Slavin, J. A.; Sundberg, T.

    2015-01-01

    This chapter reviews magnetospheric substorms and dipolarizations observed at both Earth and Mercury. It briefly discusses new insights into the physics of the substorm current wedge (SCW) that have been revealed the past few years. The formation and evolution of the SCW are closely tied to the braking of flows convecting flux away from the reconnection site and the resultant near-planet flux pileup that creates the dipolarization. At Earth, the SCW plays a critical role in substorms, coupling magnetospheric to ionospheric motions, deflecting incoming plasma flows, and regulating the dissipation of pressure built up in the near-Earth magnetosphere during dipolarization. The lack of a conducting boundary at Mercury provides a natural experiment to examine the role of an ionosphere on regulating magnetospheric convection. Energetic particles may play a much greater role within substorms at Mercury than at Earth, providing another opportunity for comparative studies.

  1. Mission provides new findings about Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Showstack, Randy

    2011-06-01

    Mercury once was considered by even some planetary scientists as “an example, to use a phrase coined by a very famous scientist, as ‘one of the burnt-out cinders of the solar system.’ And it is anything but that,” Sean Solomon, who is principal investigator of NASA's Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, said at a 16 June briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington, D. C. Scientists at the briefing announced significant new findings about the planet's chemical composition, topography, magnetic field, and other features. MESSENGER has now logged more than 1 Mercurian year (about 88 Earth days) as the first satellite in orbit around the closest planet to the Sun, and new understandings are being gleaned from the spacecraft's imaging system, which has already taken more than 20,000 images of Mercury. In addition, the laser altimeter has operated more than 2 million times from orbit thus far, and other instruments are also gathering extensive data about the planet.

  2. 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.

  3. THEORY OF SECULAR CHAOS AND MERCURY'S ORBIT

    SciTech Connect

    Lithwick, Yoram; Wu Yanqin

    2011-09-20

    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 {approx}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.

  4. 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...

  5. 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.

  6. Extrasolar planets: constraints for planet formation models.

    PubMed

    Santos, Nuno C; Benz, Willy; Mayor, Michel

    2005-10-14

    Since 1995, more than 150 extrasolar planets have been discovered, most of them in orbits quite different from those of the giant planets in our own solar system. The number of discovered extrasolar planets demonstrates that planetary systems are common but also that they may possess a large variety of properties. As the number of detections grows, statistical studies of the properties of exoplanets and their host stars can be conducted to unravel some of the key physical and chemical processes leading to the formation of planetary systems.

  7. 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.

  8. The geology of the terrestrial planets.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Carr, M.H.

    1983-01-01

    During the last four years our knowledge of the geology of the terrestrial planets has advanced rapidly. The advances are particularly noticeable for Venus and Mars. Improved understanding of Venus has come largely from the Pioneer Venus mission. The period was also one of almost continuous data gathering for Mars as the Viking orbiters and landers, emplaced at the planet in 1976, continued to function. The last orbiter ran out of attitude- control gas in August of 1980 by which time about 55 000 pictures and vast amounts of infrared data had been collected. One lander continues to function and is expected to do so for several years. Only modest advances were made in the cases of Moon and Mercury, however, for little new data was acquired. -from Author

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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 ...

  13. 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.

  14. Basin-Forming Impact Events on Mercury: Effects on Melt Production and Depth of the Source Region

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Padovan, S.; Tosi, N.; Plesa, A.-C.

    2016-08-01

    In this work we investigate to which degree large impact events on Mercury can modify the underlying mantle dynamics and how the presence of post-impact volcanism or lack thereof can be related to the planet's interior properties.

  15. 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.

  16. FORMATION OF THE TERRESTRIAL PLANETS FROM A NARROW ANNULUS

    SciTech Connect

    Hansen, Brad M. S.

    2009-09-20

    We show that the assembly of the solar system terrestrial planets can be successfully modeled with all of the mass initially confined to a narrow annulus between 0.7 and 1.0 AU. With this configuration, analogs of Mercury and Mars often form from the collisional evolution of material diffusing out of the annulus under the scattering of the forming Earth and Venus analogs. The final systems also possess eccentricities and inclinations that match the observations, without recourse to dynamical friction from remnant small body populations. Finally, the characteristic assembly timescale for Earth analogs is rapid in this model and consistent with cosmochemical models based on the {sup 182}Hf-{sup 182}W isotopes. The agreement between this model and the observations suggests that terrestrial planet systems may also be formed in 'planet traps', as has been proposed recently for the cores of giant planets in our solar system and others.

  17. Exploration of terrestrial planets from spacecraft: instrumentation, investigation, interpretation.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Surkov, Yu. A.

    This book is an English translation of the Russian original "Kosmokhimicheskie issledovaniia planet i sputnikov" published in 1985. It describes the methods, instrumentation and experimental results which have already been used or which will be used by space vehicles for exploring the composition, structure and properties of extraterrestrial material, on the basis of which modern concepts of the planets and planetary satellites have been developed. Contents: Part I. Modern concepts of planets and satellites. 1. Origin and evolution of the solar system. 2. Mercury. 3. Venus. 4. Mars. 5. Planetary satellites. Part II. Exploration of planets and satellites by space vehicles. 1. Gamma-ray spectrometric studies. 2. X-ray spectrometric studies. 3. Neutronmetry. 4. Alpha-spectrometry. 5. Mass-spectrometric studies. 6. The exploration of Mars and Phobos (Phobos mission). 7. First results of gamma-ray measurements of Mars from Phobos 2 spacecraft.

  18. 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.

  19. Wave of a Planet

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2007-01-01

    This plot tells astronomers that a fifth planet is in orbit around the star 55 Cancri, making the star the record-holder for hosting the most known exoplanets.

    As planets circle around their stars, they cause the stars to wobble back and forth in a regular pattern. By looking for this motion in a star, scientists can find planets that can't be seen with telescopes.

    The wobble caused by the fifth planet discovered around 55 Cancri is represented here by the sinuous line in blue. The actual data points are yellow and error bars are the lines above and below the yellow dots. The cycle of the wobble indicates that the planet circles around its star about every 260 days. The amplitude of the wobble indicates that the planet is a giant at least 45 times the mass of Earth.

    The wobbles caused by the other four planets has been removed from this plot, to reveal that caused by the fifth. The departure from a perfect sine wave suggests the planet's orbit is not perfectly circular.

    Because 55 Cancri has multiple planets, the star had to be observed for a long time before astronomers could find and confirm its fifth planet. These data were collected over a period of 18 years using both the Lick Observatory near San Jose, Calif., and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Planet Formation - Overview

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.

    2005-01-01

    Modern theories of star and planet formation are based upon observations of planets and smaller bodies within our own Solar System, exoplanets &round normal stars and of 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 as do terrestrial planets, but they become massive enough that they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas before the protoplanetary disk dissipates. 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.

  10. Detecting Extrasolar Planets Directly

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guenther, E. W.; Neuhäuser, R.; Huélamo, N.; Ott, T.; Brandner, W.; Alves, J.; Comerón, F.; Eckart, A.; Hatzes, A.

    Up to now, all extrasolar planets have been found by means of indirect methods. Direct detection of planets orbiting even the nearest stars seems at first glance to be impossible with present day equipment, because of the enormous difference in brightness between the star and the planet, and the small angular separation between them. However, young planets which are still in the contraction phase of evolution are comparatively bright in the infrared, and since many of the extrasolar planets detected have excentric orbits, where they are most of the time at a relatively large distance from the stars, the prospect of detecting young planets directly is much better. In fact, it is principle be possible to detect an extrasolar giant planet, if the planet is younger than 100 millon years, and if the distance is less than 100 pc. Three years ago we thus have embarked on a survey to observe more than one-hundred young, nearby stars in the near infrared. In this talk, we will review the status of the survey. In order to find out whether these stars have additionally a planet at a small distance from the star, we also carried out sensitive radial velocity observation of a subsample using an iodine-cell and the Echelle spectrograph of the Alfred-Jensch Telescope in Tautenburg.

  11. Impact cratering of the terrestrial planets and the Moon during the giant planet instability

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roig, Fernando Virgilio; Nesvorny, David; Bottke, William

    2016-10-01

    The dynamical instability of the giant planets and the planetesimal driven migration both have major implications for the crater record of the terrestrial planets and the Moon. The crater record can thus provide contraints to the behavior of the planets in the early Solar System. Here we determine the impact fluxes and the crater production rates on the terrestrial planets and the Moon from impactors originating in the primordial asteroid main belt (2.1 to 3.2 au) and the E-belt (1.5 to 2.1 au - Bottke et al. 2012). We determine the impact flux over the age of the Solar System, with particular focus on the instability of the giant planets in the jumping Jupiter model. We start with a population of asteroids uniformly distributed in the orbital parameters space, and numerically evolve them as test particles under the gravitational perturbations of the giant and terrestrial planets. We test the effects on this population due to different jumping Jupiter evolutions (the idealized jump as in Bottke et al. 2012 or models taken from Nesvorny & Morbidelli 2012). The number of impacts is determined by applying Opik's theory. We compute the impact rates on different targets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, and Mars) and from different source regions in the asteroid belt (E-belt, inner belt, outer belt). By properly calibrating the impact rates, and using crater scaling laws, we estimate the number and size distribution of craters. We show how the impact flux and crater production rates depend on the different parameters of the model such as the initial orbital distribution of the asteroids, time of the instability, different evolution of the planets, initial size distribution of the impactors, etc.

  12. Secular Trends in the Mean Longitudes of Planets Derived from Optical Observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kolesnik, Yuri B.; Masreliez, C. Johan

    2004-08-01

    About 240,000 worldwide optical observations of the Sun, Mercury, and Venus, accumulated during the entire era of classical astrometry from James Bradley up to the present, are used to analyze the secular longitude variations of the innermost planets. A reduction method relating historical planetary observations to the Hipparcos reference frame is presented. Secular trends in the longitudes of the Sun, Mercury, and Venus with respect to the ephemeris DE405 are estimated for the time span 1750-2000.

  13. 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

  14. Did 26Al and impact-induced heating differentiate Mercury?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bhatia, G. K.; Sahijpal, S.

    2017-02-01

    Numerical models dealing with the planetary scale differentiation of Mercury are presented with the short-lived nuclide, 26Al, as the major heat source along with the impact-induced heating during the accretion of planets. These two heat sources are considered to have caused differentiation of Mars, a planet with size comparable to Mercury. The chronological records and the thermal modeling of Mars indicate an early differentiation during the initial 1 million years (Ma) of the formation of the solar system. We theorize that in case Mercury also accreted over an identical time scale, the two heat sources could have differentiated the planets. Although unlike Mars there is no chronological record of Mercury's differentiation, the proposed mechanism is worth investigation. We demonstrate distinct viable scenarios for a wide range of planetary compositions that could have produced the internal structure of Mercury as deduced by the MESSENGER mission, with a metallic iron (Fe-Ni-FeS) core of radius 2000 km and a silicate mantle thickness of 400 km. The initial compositions were derived from the enstatite and CB (Bencubbin) chondrites that were formed in the reducing environments of the early solar system. We have also considered distinct planetary accretion scenarios to understand their influence on thermal processing. The majority of our models would require impact-induced mantle stripping of Mercury by hit and run mechanism with a protoplanet subsequent to its differentiation in order to produce the right size of mantle. However, this can be avoided if we increase the Fe-Ni-FeS contents to 71% by weight. Finally, the models presented here can be used to understand the differentiation of Mercury-like exoplanets and the planetary embryos of Venus and Earth.

  15. 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.

  16. Radio emission in Mercury magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Varela, J.; Reville, V.; Brun, A. S.; Pantellini, F.; Zarka, P.

    2016-10-01

    Context. Active stars possess magnetized wind that has a direct impact on planets that can lead to radio emission. Mercury is a good test case to study the effect of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on radio emission driven in the planet magnetosphere. Such studies could be used as proxies to characterize the magnetic field topology and intensity of exoplanets. Aims: The aim of this study is to quantify the radio emission in the Hermean magnetosphere. Methods: We use the magnetohydrodynamic code PLUTO in spherical coordinates with an axisymmetric multipolar expansion for the Hermean magnetic field, to analyze the effect of the IMF orientation and intensity, as well as the hydrodynamic parameters of the solar wind (velocity, density and temperature), on the net power dissipated on the Hermean day and night side. We apply the formalism derived by Zarka et al. (2001, Astrophys. Space Sci., 277, 293), Zarka (2007, Planet. Space Sci., 55, 598) to infer the radio emission level from the net dissipated power. We perform a set of simulations with different hydrodynamic parameters of the solar wind, IMF orientations and intensities, that allow us to calculate the dissipated power distribution and infer the existence of radio emission hot spots on the planet day side, and to calculate the integrated radio emission of the Hermean magnetosphere. Results: The obtained radio emission distribution of dissipated power is determined by the IMF orientation (associated with the reconnection regions in the magnetosphere), although the radio emission strength is dependent on the IMF intensity and solar wind hydro parameters. The calculated total radio emission level is in agreement with the one estimated in Zarka et al. (2001, Astrophys. Space Sci., 277, 293) , between 5 × 105 and 2 × 106 W.

  17. Minamata Convention on Mercury

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    On November 6, 2013 the United States signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a new multilateral environmental agreement that addresses specific human activities which are contributing to widespread mercury pollution

  18. Basic Information about Mercury

    MedlinePlus

    ... globe -- before it is deposited in soil or water. Mercury that remains in the air for prolonged periods of time and travels across continents is said to be in the "global cycle." One major source of mercury emissions outside of ...

  19. 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

  20. 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)

  1. 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…

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. Production of simple molecules on the surface of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gibson, E. K., Jr.

    1977-01-01

    Lunar sample studies have shown that solar-wind irradiation of the lunar surface has produced a variety of low-molecular-weight compounds. Analysis of the lunar soils has revealed the presence of H2, CH4, H2O, N2, CO, CO2, He, Ne and other components which are extralunar. Irradiation experiments on lunar materials and analogs have shown that solar-wind and solar-flare irradiation of the lunar surface produces selected low-molecular-weight components. Solar-wind irradiation of Mercury's surface should also produce a wide variety of low-molecular-weight species because of the increased solar flux, which results from Mercury being nearer the sun than the moon. The thermal regime of Mercury's surface would result in thermal evaporation of low-temperature components followed by 'cold-trapping' on the night-time side of the planet. Such desorption-adsorption processes assist chemical weathering of Mercury's regolith.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Ancient Maya Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pendergast, David M.

    1982-08-01

    Discovery of mercury in an ancient Maya offering at Lamanai, Belize, has stimulated examination of possible sources of the material in the Maya area. Two zones of cinnabar and native mercury deposits can be defined in the Maya highlands, and the presence of the native metal suggests that the ancient Maya collected rather than extracted the mercury from ore.

  11. Dental amalgam and mercury

    SciTech Connect

    Mackert, J.R. Jr. )

    1991-08-01

    This paper looks at the issues of the current amalgam controversy: the daily dose of mercury from amalgam, hypersensitivity to mercury, claims of adverse effects from amalgam mercury and alleged overnight 'cures.' In addition, the toxicity and allergenicity of the proposed alternative materials are examined with the same kind of scrutiny applied by the anti-amalgam group to dental amalgam. 100 references.

  12. An Investigation of Trajectories of Atoms in Mercury's Exosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bradley, Eric Todd

    2016-10-01

    Mercury's neutral exosphere consists of atoms or molecules ejected from the surface that are on individual trajectories that may re-impact the surface if there is insufficient energy to escape the gravity of the planet. This is an investigation of how the radiation pressure, orbital acceleration of the planet, and planetary rotation combine together to produce complicated trajectories. Because of Mercury's non-zero eccentricity the planet is not in uniform circular motion, which leads to radial and tangential accelerations that vary throughout the Mercury year. Besides radiation pressure the trajectory of an exospheric atom is affected by the planet accelerating during the time of flight of the atom that 1) causes the atom's position with respect to the ejection point to vary in a manner that is different than if the planet were not accelerating and 2) causes the planet-atom distance to vary in a manner that is different than for a typical ballistic trajectory resulting in variation of the gravitational force that the planet exerts on the atom. These effects are small but persistent and affect where the atom re-impacts the surface, which may lead to asymmetrical distributions of atoms in the surface regolith and exosphere.Preliminary results from simulations of ejected atoms that include 1) radiation pressure that varies with the atom's velocity due to Doppler shifting, 2) radial and tangential accelerations of the planet, and 3) the variation of the planet's gravity on the atom with distance above the planet show that atoms ejected at low energies normal to the surface from the subsolar point re-impact on the dusk side hemisphere of the planet. However atoms ejected at high energies normal to the surface from the subsolar point re-impact on the dawn side hemisphere of the planet. A fraction of atoms ejected normal to the surface from the dawn terminator within an energy range that results in the atom re-impacting and sticking to the night side surface behind the

  13. 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.

  14. MESSENGER observations of the composition of Mercury's ionized exosphere and plasma environment.

    PubMed

    Zurbuchen, Thomas H; Raines, Jim M; Gloeckler, George; Krimigis, Stamatios M; Slavin, James A; Koehn, Patrick L; Killen, Rosemary M; Sprague, Ann L; McNutt, Ralph L; Solomon, Sean C

    2008-07-04

    The region around Mercury is filled with ions that originate from interactions of the solar wind with Mercury's space environment and through ionization of its exosphere. The MESSENGER spacecraft's observations of Mercury's ionized exosphere during its first flyby yielded Na+, O+, and K+ abundances, consistent with expectations from observations of neutral species. There are increases in ions at a mass per charge (m/q) = 32 to 35, which we interpret to be S+ and H2S+, with (S+ + H2S+)/(Na+ + Mg+) = 0.67 +/- 0.06, and from water-group ions around m/q = 18, at an abundance of 0.20 +/- 0.03 relative to Na+ plus Mg+. The fluxes of Na+, O+, and heavier ions are largest near the planet, but these Mercury-derived ions fill the magnetosphere. Doubly ionized ions originating from Mercury imply that electrons with energies less than 1 kiloelectron volt are substantially energized in Mercury's magnetosphere.

  15. 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.

  16. 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].

  17. Tectonic evolution of the terrestrial planets.

    PubMed

    Head, J W; Solomon, S C

    1981-07-03

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. The shape of Mercury's south-polar region

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, M. E.; Kahan, D. S.; Barnouin, O. S.; Ernst, C. M.; Solomon, S. C.; Zuber, M. T.; Smith, D. E.; Phillips, R. J.; Hauck, S. A.; Lemoine, F. G.; Neumann, G. A.; Peale, S. J.; Margot, J.; Mazarico, E.; McNutt, R. L.

    2011-12-01

    We present measurements of the radius of Mercury over the planet's southern hemisphere within 30° of the south pole. These measurements, derived from occultations of MESSENGER's radio frequency (RF) transmissions, are the first such measurements southward of 30°S, a region beyond the reach of the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA). The occultation start and end times, recovered with 0.3-s accuracy or better by fitting edge-diffraction patterns to the RF power history, are used to estimate Mercury's radius at the tangent point of the RF path. The occultation-analysis techniques were calibrated by comparing hundreds of occultation-derived radii to MLA measurements in Mercury's northern hemisphere, indicating a measurement accuracy of 0.4 km (one standard deviation). The southern-hemisphere data provide initial estimates of the flattening of the south-pole region and the north-south offset between Mercury's center of figure (COF) and center of mass (COM). A high degree of flattening would complement the north-polar depression and may indicate a rotationally driven equatorial bulge as the source for the degree-2 shape of Mercury. Alternatively, the lack of south-pole flattening would suggest that the north-pole depression may be a remnant of impacts or mantle convective flow. The presence or lack of a north-south COM-COF offset contributes to our understanding of the processes that shape Mercury's rotational and interior dynamics.

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. From Disks to Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Youdin, Andrew N.; Kenyon, Scott J.

    This pedagogical chapter covers the theory of planet formation, with an emphasis on the physical processes relevant to current research. After summarizing empirical constraints from astronomical and geophysical data, we describe the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks. We consider the growth of planetesimals and of larger solid protoplanets, followed by the accretion of planetary atmospheres, including the core accretion instability. We also examine the possibility that gas disks fragment directly into giant planets and/or brown dwarfs. We defer a detailed description of planet migration and dynamical evolution to other work, such as the complementary chapter in this series by Morbidelli.

  3. Challenges in planet formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morbidelli, Alessandro; Raymond, Sean N.

    2016-10-01

    Over the past two decades, large strides have been made in the field of planet formation. Yet fundamental questions remain. Here we review our state of understanding of five fundamental bottlenecks in planet formation. These are the following: (1) the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks; (2) the growth of the first planetesimals; (3) orbital migration driven by interactions between protoplanets and gaseous disk; (4) the origin of the Solar System's orbital architecture; and (5) the relationship between observed super-Earths and our own terrestrial planets. Given our lack of understanding of these issues, even the most successful formation models remain on shaky ground.

  4. Minor Planet Center

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Marsden, Brian G.

    1999-01-01

    This paper reports on the activities of the Minor Planet Center for the year of 1998. The main product of this center is the Minor Planet Circulars, augmented by the Minor Planet Circulars Supplement which is a new series introduced in 1997 to include the actual observations, which are now only summarized MPC. The introduction of the Daily Orbit Update (DOU) lists all the orbits computed and identification found since the previous issue. There has been a fivefold increase in the reported Near Earth Objects, which includes the addition of 55 potentially hazardous asteroids.

  5. 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.

  6. Planets under pressure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jeanloz, Raymond

    2009-04-01

    Deep inside the planet Jupiter, diamonds hail down from hydrocarbon clouds as intense atmospheric pressures break methane into its atomic components. Further in - but still only 15% of the way to the planet's centre - the pressure reaches a million times that of the Earth's atmosphere. This is enough to transform hydrogen from the transparent, insulating gas we know at our planet's surface into a metallic fluid that sustains Jupiter's huge magnetic field. Even diamond is not forever: at pressures of 8-10 million atmospheres it is transformed into an opaque, metallic form of carbon, rather than the familiar transparent crystal.

  7. Our Changing Planet

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2003-01-01

    2003 2. REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED 00-00-2003 to 00-00-2003 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Our Changing Planet 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER 5b. GRANT NUMBER...Budget Erin Wuchte Office of Management and Budget Margaret R. McCalla Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology OUR CHANGING PLANET THE FISCAL...you a copy of Our Changing Planet : The FY 2003 U.S. Global Change Research Program and Climate Change Research Initiative. The report describes the

  8. 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.

  9. The Obliquities of the Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamilton, D. P.; Ward, Wm. R.

    2002-09-01

    Jupiter has by far the smallest obliquity ( ~ 3o) of the planets (not counting tidally de-spun Mercury and Venus) which may be reflective of its formation by hydrodynamic gas flow rather than stochastic impacts. Saturn's obliquity ( ~ 26o), however, seems to belie this simple formation picture. But since the spin angular momentum of any planet is much smaller than its orbital angular momentum, post-formation obliquity can be strongly modified by passing through secular spin-orbit resonances, i.e., when the spin axis precession rate of the planet matches one of the frequencies describing the precession of the orbit plane. Spin axis precession is due to the solar torque on both the oblate figure of the planet and any orbiting satellites. In the case of Jupiter, the torque on the Galilean satellites is the principal cause of its 4.5*105 year precession; Saturn's precession of 1.8*106 years is dominated by Titan. In the past, the planetary spin axis precession rates should have been much faster due to the massive circumplanetary disks from which the current satellites condensed. The regression of the orbital node of a planet is due to the gravitational perturbations of the other planets. Nodal regression is not uniform, but is instead a composite of the planetary system's normal modes. For Jupiter and Saturn, the principal frequency is the nu16, with a period of ~ 49,000 years; the amplitude of this term is I ~ 0o.36 for Jupiter and I ~ 0o.90 for Saturn. In spite of the small amplitudes, slow adiabatic passages through this resonance (due to circumplanetary disk dispersal) could increase planetary obliquities from near zero to ~ [tan1/3 I] ~ 10o. We will discuss scenarios in which giant planet obliquities are affected by this and other resonances, and will use Jupiter's low obliquity to constrain the mass and duration of a satellite precursor disk. DPH acknowledges support from NSF Career Grant AST 9733789 and WRW is grateful to the NASA OSS and PGG programs.

  10. [Chronic occupational metallic mercurialism].

    PubMed

    Faria, Marcília de Araújo Medrado

    2003-02-01

    This is a review on current knowledge of chronic occupational mercurialism syndrome. Major scientific studies and reviews on clinical manifestation and physiopathology of mercury poisoning were evaluated. The search was complemented using Medline and Lilacs data. Erethism or neuropsychological syndrome, characterized by irritability, personality change, loss of self-confidence, depression, delirium, insomnia, apathy, loss of memory, headaches, general pain, and tremors, is seen after exposure to metallic mercury. Hypertension, renal disturbances, allergies and immunological conditions are also common. Mercury is found in many different work processes: industries, gold mining, and dentistry. As prevention measures are not often adopted there is an increasing risk of mercury poisoning. The disease has been under diagnosed even though 16 clinical forms of mercury poisoning are described by Brazilian regulations. Clinical diagnosis is important, especially because abnormalities in the central nervous, renal and immunological systems can be detected using current medical technology, helping to develop the knowledge and control measures for mercurialism.

  11. Statistical analysis of micrometeoroids flux on Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-08-01

    Context: Meteoroid impacts are an important source of neutral atoms in the exosphere of Mercury. Impacting particles of size smaller than 1 cm have been proposed to be the major contribution to exospheric gases. However, our knowledge of the fluxes and impact velocities of different sizes is based on old extrapolations of similar quantities on Earth. Aims: We compute by means of N-body numerical integrations the orbital evolution of a large number of dust particles supposedly produced in the Main Belt. They migrate inward under the effect of drag forces until they encounter a terrestrial planet or eventually fall into the Sun. From our numerical simulations, we compute the flux of particles hitting Mercury's surface and the corresponding distribution of impact velocities. Methods: The orbital evolution of dust particles of different sizes is computed with a numerical code based on a physical model developed previously by Marzari & Vanzani (1994, A&A, 283, 275). It includes the effects of Poynting-Robertson drag, solar wind drag, and planetary perturbations. A precise calibration of the particle flux on Mercury has been performed by comparing our model predictions for dust infall on to Earth with observational data. Results: We provide predictions of the flux to different size particles impacting Mercury and their collisional velocity distribution. We compare our results with previous estimates and we find that these collisional velocities are lower but that the fluxes are significantly higher.

  12. Silicate mineralogy at the surface of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Namur, Olivier; Charlier, Bernard

    2017-01-01

    NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has revealed geochemical diversity across Mercury's volcanic crust. Near-infrared to ultraviolet spectra and images have provided evidence for the Fe2+-poor nature of silicate minerals, magnesium sulfide minerals in hollows and a darkening component attributed to graphite, but existing spectral data is insufficient to build a mineralogical map for the planet. Here we investigate the mineralogical variability of silicates in Mercury's crust using crystallization experiments on magmas with compositions and under reducing conditions expected for Mercury. We find a common crystallization sequence consisting of olivine, plagioclase, pyroxenes and tridymite for all magmas tested. Depending on the cooling rate, we suggest that lavas on Mercury are either fully crystallized or made of a glassy matrix with phenocrysts. Combining the experimental results with geochemical mapping, we can identify several mineralogical provinces: the Northern Volcanic Plains and Smooth Plains, dominated by plagioclase, the High-Mg province, strongly dominated by forsterite, and the Intermediate Plains, comprised of forsterite, plagioclase and enstatite. This implies a temporal evolution of the mineralogy from the oldest lavas, dominated by mafic minerals, to the youngest lavas, dominated by plagioclase, consistent with progressive shallowing and decreasing degree of mantle melting over time.

  13. Discovery of calcium in Mercury's atmosphere.

    PubMed

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

    2000-03-09

    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.

  14. MESSENGER Observations of Extreme Space Weather in Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Slavin, J. A.

    2013-09-01

    Increasing activity on the Sun is allowing MESSENGER to make its first observations of Mercury's magnetosphere under extreme solar wind conditions. At Earth interplanetary shock waves and coronal mass ejections produce severe "space weather" in the form of large geomagnetic storms that affect telecommunications, space systems, and ground-based power grids. In the case of Mercury the primary effect of extreme space weather in on the degree to which this it's weak global magnetic field can shield the planet from the solar wind. Direct impact of the solar wind on the surface of airless bodies like Mercury results in space weathering of the regolith and the sputtering of atomic species like sodium and calcium to high altitudes where they contribute to a tenuous, but highly dynamic exosphere. MESSENGER observations indicate that during extreme interplanetary conditions the solar wind plasma gains access to the surface of Mercury through three main regions: 1. The magnetospheric cusps, which fill with energized solar wind and planetary ions; 2. The subsolar magnetopause, which is compressed and eroded by reconnection to very low altitudes where the natural gyro-motion of solar wind protons may result in their impact on the surface; 3. The magnetotail where hot plasma sheet ions rapidly convect sunward to impact the surface on the nightside of Mercury. The possible implications of these new MESSENGER observations for our ability to predict space weather at Earth and other planets will be described.

  15. Fast spin of the young extrasolar planet β Pictoris b

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Snellen, Ignas A. G.; Brandl, Bernhard R.; de Kok, Remco J.; Brogi, Matteo; Birkby, Jayne; Schwarz, Henriette

    2014-05-01

    The spin of a planet arises from the accretion of angular momentum during its formation, but the details of this process are still unclear. In the Solar System, the equatorial rotation velocities and, consequently, spin angular momenta of most of the planets increase with planetary mass; the exceptions to this trend are Mercury and Venus, which, since formation, have significantly spun down because of tidal interactions. Here we report near-infrared spectroscopic observations, at a resolving power of 100,000, of the young extrasolar gas giant planet β Pictoris b (refs 7, 8). The absorption signal from carbon monoxide in the planet's thermal spectrum is found to be blueshifted with respect to that from the parent star by approximately 15 kilometres per second, consistent with a circular orbit. The combined line profile exhibits a rotational broadening of about 25 kilometres per second, meaning that β Pictoris b spins significantly faster than any planet in the Solar System, in line with the extrapolation of the known trend in spin velocity with planet mass.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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)

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ...

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. New concepts for Mercury orbiter missions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    French, J. R.; Stuart, J. R.; Zeldin, B.

    1978-01-01

    The next logical step in the exploration of Mercury is an orbiter mission. A conflict exists between those in the field of planetary sciences who desire a mission with a low circular orbit, and scientists in the fields and particles disciplines, who generally prefer a highly elliptical spacecraft orbit. The thermal environment imposed by the sun and planet render the low orbit intolerable for spacecraft using previous thermal control methods. A thermal control concept and a spacecraft mission concept have been developed which resolve these problems and promise a scientifically significant mission for the mid-1980s.

  9. 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.

  10. Underlying Architecture of Planetary Systems Based on Kepler Data: Number of Planets and Coplanarity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fang, Julia; Margot, J. L.

    2012-10-01

    We investigated the underlying architecture of planetary systems by deriving the distribution of planet multiplicity (number of planets) and the distribution of orbital inclinations based on the sample of planet candidates discovered by the Kepler mission. The scope of our study included solar-like stars and planets with orbital periods less than 200 days and with radii between 1.5 and 30 Earth radii, and was based on Kepler planet candidates detected during Quarters 1 through 6. Our analysis improves on previous work by including all available quarters, extending to 200-day periods, and fitting models to observables such as normalized transit duration ratios that contain information on mutual orbital inclinations; these improvements lend to a deeper investigation of the intrinsic distributions of planetary systems. We created models of planetary systems with different distributions of planet multiplicity and orbital inclinations, simulated observations of these systems by Kepler, and compared the number and properties of the transits of detectable objects to actual Kepler planet detections. Based on the underlying distributions of our best-fit models, 75-80% of planetary systems have 1 or 2 planets with orbital periods less than 200 days. In addition, over 85% of planets have orbital inclinations less than 3 degrees. This high degree of coplanarity is comparable to that seen in our Solar System, with the exception of Mercury. These results provide important constraints and insights into theories of planet formation and evolution.

  11. 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)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Laser altimetry of Mercury, Moon, and Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Neumann, G. A.; Mazarico, E.; Smith, D. E.; Zuber, M. T.; Torrence, M. H.; Barnouin, O. S.; Solomon, S. C.

    2011-12-01

    Since March 29 of this year, the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has been ranging twice daily to the surface of Mercury from orbit, collecting more than 1 million ranges each month. Mercury joins Earth, Moon, and Mars as a planetary body mapped precisely by laser altimetry from orbit. Ranging covers nearly all of the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere largely lies beyond the 1800-km range of MLA from MESSENGER's eccentric orbit, but the 10-cm-precision MLA data will eventually be complemented by less precise radio occultation and limb profiling measurements by the MESSENGER spacecraft, as well as by digital topographic models produced by stereo photogrammetry. Mercury topography is distinguished from its larger and smaller counterparts by a relatively low (<10 km) dynamic range, less than half that of Earth, Moon, and Mars, and two-thirds that of its nearest neighbor, Venus. There are ample indications from the topography of Mercury impact structures as well as from its low-degree shape that Mercury's thermal evolution was complex and differed from those of other terrestrial planets. Central to the thermal history are the extensive contractional tectonic features for which altimetry quantifies accommodated strain. As well, MLA profiles of extensional graben within more than two dozen impact craters and basins, together with topographic and gravity field observations, will constrain the evolution of Mercury's upper crust and lithosphere. Lidar topographic data provide a wealth of geological contextual information regarding impact crater formation and modification, tectonics, volcanism, lithospheric strength, thermal evolution, and internal structure. Topography is essential for orthorectification of images and calibration of reflectance data. Geodetic topography, referenced to the center of mass, in conjunction with gravity, allows an assessment of the distribution of

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Reinflating Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kohler, Susanna

    2017-01-01

    Two new, large gas-giant exoplanets have been discovered orbiting close to their host stars. A recent study examining these planets and others like them may help us to better understand what happens to close-in hot Jupiters as their host stars reach the end of their main-sequence lives.OversizedGiantsUnbinned transit light curves for HAT-P-65b. [Adapted from Hartman et al. 2016]The discovery of HAT-P-65b and HAT-P-66b, two new transiting hot Jupiters, is intriguing. These planets have periods of just under 3 days and masses of roughly 0.5 and 0.8 times that of Jupiter, but their sizes are whats really interesting: they have inflated radii of 1.89 and 1.59 times that of Jupiter.These two planets, discovered using the Hungarian-made Automated Telescope Network (HATNet) in Arizona and Hawaii, mark the latest in an ever-growing sample of gas-giant exoplanets with radii larger than expected based on theoretical planetary structure models.What causes this discrepancy? Did the planets just fail to contract to the expected size when they were initially formed, or were they reinflated later in their lifetimes? If the latter, how? These are questions that scientists are only now starting to be able to address using statistics of the sample of close-in, transiting planets.Unbinned transit light curves for HAT-P-66b. [Hartman et al. 2016]Exploring Other PlanetsLed by Joel Hartman (Princeton University), the team that discovered HAT-P-65b and HAT-P-66b has examined these planets observed parameters and those of dozens of other known close-in, transiting exoplanets discovered with a variety of transiting exoplanet missions: HAT, WASP, Kepler, TrES, and KELT. Hartman and collaborators used this sample to draw conclusions about what causes some of these planets to have such large radii.The team found that there is a statistically significant correlation between the radii of close-in giant planets and the fractional ages of their host stars (i.e., the stars age divided by its full

  19. A Spectral Map Of Mercury From MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Izenberg, N. R.; Pahsai, P.; Klima, R. L.; Blewett, D. T.; Goudge, T. A.; Solomon, S. C.

    2013-12-01

    We use orbital data from the Mercury Surface and Atmospheric Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) Visible and Near Infrared Spectrograph (VIRS) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft to study subtle compositional variations across the surface of Mercury. VIRS reflectance spectra obtained from orbit allow identification and classification of spectral units, many of which collocate with geologic features such as pyroclastic deposits; low-reflectance material (LRM); bright, fresh-appearing impact craters; and hollows. The vast majority of the surface is composed of plains units with brightness and spectral reflectance ratios (e.g., 415 nm / 750 nm and 310 nm / 390 nm) that vary within a small range about mean values for the planet. Analysis of VIRS reflectance data in the context of Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) color and high-resolution images enables identification of large regions with similar spectral properties. Our spectral map of Mercury covers approximately 70% of the planet (excluding polar regions and two regions for which calibration refinement is pending). On the basis of brightness, spectral ratio variations, and superposition relationships in the image data, we define four large-scale spectral units in Mercury plains, as well as six additional spectral units of smaller area. The four large-scale spectral units cover (1) 48.7% (brightness and spectral ratio parameters within a few percent of planetary mean values) (2) 31.6% (higher reflectance, higher 310 nm / 390 nm values than mean), (3) 12.9% (higher reflectance, lower 415 nm / 750 nm values than mean), and (4) 6.8% (lower reflectance and higher 310 nm / 390 nm values than mean) of the mapped area. Spectrally defined plains units correspond broadly to plains units defined by morphology and color imaging; e.g., unit 2 corresponds to the previously defined high-reflectance red plains (HRP), unit 3 to the northern smooth plains and the smooth plains

  20. Current Understanding of Mercury's Magnetosphere before MESSENGER

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Krimigis, S. M.

    The MESSENGER spacecraft is scheduled to be launched mid-May, 2004 on a trajectory that includes two flybys (October 07, July 08) and eventual orbit insertion in July 2009 around the planet Mercury. Embedded in its payload are instruments to examine the basic properties of the planet's magnetosphere, including magnetometer, plasma, and energetic particle measurements (Gold et al, 2001). Our present knowledge of Mercury's magnetosphere is derived from two nightside Mariner 10 flybys in 1974, 1975 that established the presence of an intrinsic magnetic field and some energetic particles. Unfortunately not even the magnetic dipole term was well-resolved, and the fluxes and identity of energetic particles have been a subject of extensive discussion and varying interpretations (e.g. Armstrong et al, 1975, Christon, 1989). There has been evidence of field-aligned currents (e.g. Slavin et al, 1997), but alternative interpretations of magnetic signatures suggest that the magnetosphere may be driven by changing external boundary conditions (Luhman et al, 1998). These uncertainties, coupled with the observed presence of volatiles (H, He, O, Na, K, Ca) raise obvious questions on current closure, hot plasma injection and acceleration, the frequency with which the planetary surface is exposed to the solar wind, and potential sputtering of material due to particle impingement on the regolith. The talk will review our current knowledge and describe the measurements expected from MESSENGER that will address some of the key science questions. Armstrong et al, JGR, 80, 4015, 1975 Gold et al, Planet and Space Sci, 49, 1467, 2001 Christon, S.P., JGR, 94, 6481, 1989 Slavin et al, Planet and Space Sci, 45, 133, 1997 Luhman et al, JGR, 103, 9113, 1998

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Thallium Mercury Laser Development

    DTIC Science & Technology

    1981-01-01

    THALLIUM MERCURY LASER DEVELOPMENT C. S. Liu and D. W. Feldman FINAL REPORT (PHASE III) (Period between Feb. 1, 1980 and Jan. 31, 1981) 0 Contract No...Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15235 Approved for public release;IDistribution Unlimited 1/i;THALLIUM MERCURY LASER DEVELOPMENT * , , IS C. S./Liu tRD. W /eldman...9 ’ t4 THALLIUM MERCURY LASER DEVELOPMENT C. S. Liu and D. W. Feldman Westinghouse R&D Center Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15235 1

  5. 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.

  6. Primordial Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schild, Rudolph E.; Gibson, Carl H.

    Recent spacecraft observations exploring solar system properties impact standard paradigms of the formation of stars, planets and comets. We stress the unexpected cloud of microscopic dust resulting from the DEEP IMPACT mission, and the existence of molten nodules in STARDUST samples. And the theory of star formation does not explain the common occurrence of binary and multiple star systems in the standard gas fragmentation scenario. No current theory of planet formation can explain the iron core of the earth, under oceans of water. These difficulties are avoided in a scenario where the planet mass objects form primordially and are today the baryonic dark matter. They have been detected in quasar microlensing and anomalous quasar radio brightening bursts. The primordial planets often concentrate together to form a star, with residual matter seen in pre-stellar accretion discs around the youngest stars. These primordial planet mass bodies were formed of hydrogen-helium, aggregated in dense clumps of a trillion at the time of plasma neutralization 380,000 years after the big bang. Most have been frozen and invisible, but are now manifesting themselves in numerous ways as sensitive modern space telescopes become operational. Their key detection signature is their thermal emission spectrum, pegged at the 13.8 degrees Kelvin triple point of hydrogen, the baryonic dark matter (Staplefeldt et al. 1999).

  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. Magnetic flux pileup and plasma depletion in Mercury's subsolar magnetosheath

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gershman, Daniel J.; Slavin, James A.; Raines, Jim M.; Zurbuchen, Thomas H.; Anderson, Brian J.; Korth, Haje; Baker, Daniel N.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2013-11-01

    from the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) and Magnetometer (MAG) on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft during 40 orbits about Mercury are used to characterize the plasma depletion layer just exterior to the planet's dayside magnetopause. A plasma depletion layer forms at Mercury as a result of piled-up magnetic flux that is draped around the magnetosphere. The low average upstream Alfvénic Mach number (MA ~3-5) in the solar wind at Mercury often results in large-scale plasma depletion in the magnetosheath between the subsolar magnetopause and the bow shock. Flux pileup is observed to occur downstream under both quasi-perpendicular and quasi-parallel shock geometries for all orientations of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Furthermore, little to no plasma depletion is seen during some periods with stable northward IMF. The consistently low value of plasma β, the ratio of plasma pressure to magnetic pressure, at the magnetopause associated with the low average upstream MA is believed to be the cause for the high average reconnection rate at Mercury, reported to be nearly 3 times that observed at Earth. Finally, a characteristic depletion length outward from the subsolar magnetopause of ~300 km is found for Mercury. This value scales among planetary bodies as the average standoff distance of the magnetopause.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Comparison of large crater and multiringed basin populations on Mars, Mercury, and the moon

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Malin, M. C.

    1976-01-01

    The maximum regional areal densities of large impact craters on Mars, Mercury, and the moon appear to be inversely proportional to the surface areas of the planets. This would not be expected if the objects impacting the planetary surfaces came from common sources and were moving with high velocities relative to the planets; rather, a uniform areal density would be anticipated. Another way of stating the observation is that each planet was bombarded by the same number of objects. Two speculative explanations for the observation are that: (1) all planets underwent a uniform bombardment but were resurfaced by processes proportional to planetary surface area, or (2) equally populated families of objects, moving about the sun in orbits similar to those of the planets, were independently depopulated by the respective planets.

  14. Imaging Extrasolar Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bowler, Brendan P.

    2016-10-01

    High-contrast adaptive optics (AO) imaging is a powerful technique to probe the architectures of planetary systems from the outside-in and survey the atmospheres of self-luminous giant planets. Direct imaging has rapidly matured over the past decade and especially the last few years with the advent of high-order AO systems, dedicated planet-finding instruments with specialized coronagraphs, and innovative observing and post-processing strategies to suppress speckle noise. This review summarizes recent progress in high-contrast imaging with particular emphasis on observational results, discoveries near and below the deuterium-burning limit, and a practical overview of large-scale surveys and dedicated instruments. I conclude with a statistical meta-analysis of deep imaging surveys in the literature. Based on observations of 384 unique and single young (≈5-300 Myr) stars spanning stellar masses between 0.1 and 3.0 M ⊙, the overall occurrence rate of 5-13 M Jup companions at orbital distances of 30-300 au is {0.6}-0.5+0.7 % assuming hot-start evolutionary models. The most massive giant planets regularly accessible to direct imaging are about as rare as hot Jupiters are around Sun-like stars. Dividing this sample into individual stellar mass bins does not reveal any statistically significant trend in planet frequency with host mass: giant planets are found around {2.8}-2.3+3.7 % of BA stars, <4.1% of FGK stars, and <3.9% of M dwarfs. Looking forward, extreme AO systems and the next generation of ground- and space-based telescopes with smaller inner working angles and deeper detection limits will increase the pace of discovery to ultimately map the demographics, composition, evolution, and origin of planets spanning a broad range of masses and ages.

  15. The New View of Mercury after MESSENGER's first year in orbit

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-04-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has been making measurements of the innermost planet and its environment nearly continuously since its successful insertion into orbit about Mercury in March 2011. Extensive data from orbit have enabled discoveries about Mercury's composition, geology, interior, magnetic field, and interaction with the solar wind. 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 and is richer in volatile constituents 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 widespread examples of both flood lava and pyroclastic deposits. The tectonic history of Mercury, although dominated by global contractional deformation as first seen by Mariner 10, is more complex than first appreciated, with numerous examples of extensional deformation tied to impact crater and basin modification. Long-wavelength changes to Mercury's topography occurred after the earliest phases of the planet's geological history. Several large gravity anomalies, including one candidate mascon, are found in Mercury's northern hemisphere. Crustal thickness in this hemisphere is greater at low latitudes and lessens near the pole, and there is evidence for thinning beneath some impact basins. Measurements of Mercury's moments of inertia require either (i) a mantle density that is too high to be compatible with evidence from elemental remote sensing of Mercury's surface for low mantle abundances of Fe, Al, and Ti or (ii) a solid high-density layer between the silicate mantle and fluid outer core that may be a solidified FeS layer at the top of an Fe-S-Si core. Mercury's magnetic field is dominantly dipolar, but the field is axially symmetric and

  16. 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.

  17. 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

    1995-06-09

    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.

  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. 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.

  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. 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.

  2. Modeling Mercury in Proteins

    SciTech Connect

    Smith, Jeremy C; Parks, Jerry M

    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 non-toxic, other forms such as Hg2+ 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 Hg2+ can be methylated by certain bacteria and archaea to form methylmercury. Conversely, bacteria also demethylate methylmercury and reduce Hg2+ 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 picture and circumvent issues associated with toxicity. Here we describe computational methods for investigating and characterizing how mercury binds to proteins, how inter- and intra-protein 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 confers mercury resistance in many bacteria. Lastly, we place work on mercury in proteins in the context of what is needed for a comprehensive multi-scale model of environmental mercury cycling.

  3. 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.

  4. Determination of the rotation of Mercury from satellite gravimetry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cicalò, S.; Milani, A.

    2012-11-01

    Space missions can have as a goal the determination of the interior structure of a planet: this is the case for the ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Very precise range and range-rate tracking from the Earth and onboard accelerometry will provide a huge amount of data, from which it will be possible to study the gravity field of Mercury and other parameters of interest. Gravity can be used to constrain the interior structure, but cannot uniquely determine the interior mass distribution. A much stronger constraint on the interior can be given by also determining the rotation state of the planet. If the planet is asymmetric enough, the gravity field as measured by an orbiting probe tracked from the Earth contains signatures from the rotation. Are these enough to solve for the rotation state, to the required accuracy, from tracking data alone, without measurements of the surface? In order to reach some result analytically, a simplified analytical model is developed, and the symmetry breaking, occurring when the shape of the planet deviates from spherical symmetry, is characterized by explicit formulae. Moreover, a full cycle numerical simulation of the Radio Science Experiment is performed, including the generation of simulated tracking and accelerometer data and the determination, by least-squares fit, of the Mercury-centric initial conditions of the probe, of Mercury's gravity field and its rotation state, together with other parameters affecting the dynamics. The conclusion is that there is no reason of principle prohibiting the determination of the rotation from gravimetry, and the sensitivity of the measurements and the coverage are good enough to perform the experiment at the required level of accuracy. This will be important also in ensuring independent terms of comparison for the rotation experiment performed with a high-resolution camera. The mission is currently under development and much care has to be taken in guaranteeing the scientific goals even if

  5. Mercury's Pyroclastic Deposits and their spectral variability

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Besse, Sebastien; Doressoundiram, Alain

    2016-10-01

    Observations of the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around Mercury have shown that volcanism is a very important process that has shaped the surface of the planet, in particular in its early history.In this study, we use the full range of the MASCS spectrometer (300-1400nm) to characterize the spectral properties of the pyroclastic deposits. Analysis of deposits within the Caloris Basin, and on other location of Mercury's surface (e.g., Hesiod, Rachmaninoff, etc.) show two main results: 1) Spectral variability is significant in the UV and VIS range between the deposits themselves, and also with respect to the rest of the planet and other features like hollows, 2) Deposits exhibit a radial variability similar to those found with the lunar pyroclastic deposits of floor fractured craters.These results are put in context with the latest analysis of other instruments of the MESSENGER spacecraft, in particular the visible observations from the imager MDIS, and the elemental composition given by the X-Ray spectrometer. Although all together, the results do not allow pointing to compositional variability of the deposits for certain, information on the formation mechanisms, the weathering and the age formation can be extrapolated from the radial variability and the elemental composition.

  6. 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.

  7. Mariner X - The Only 20th Century Visitor to Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shirley, D.

    2002-01-01

    at the planet 100 days after launch and provide sophisticated scientific measurements not in principle available using orbiters, while meanwhile being far less risky, time-consuming and costly from an operations standpoint. Our `Mercury Express' is fast, low cost, low risk, high heritage, and high return. It carries a large payload as well as 2 easily-deployed mini-probes of <10 kg each. It can complete an overview of the surface within 1 year from launch (which can be as early as 2006), after 2 encounters. The mission concept was developed at NASA/GSFC based on previously unexploited yearly opportunities for flyby trajectories which take advantage of Mercury's spin orbital resonance and allow the spacecraft to re- encounter Mercury at the same relative position in its revolution around the sun, when its hemispheres are alternately illuminated. Mercury Express can use an inexpensive launch vehicle to directly transfer its payload from Earth to Mercury in 100 days and allow return to Mercury for a second encounter 264 days later when the planet's opposite side is illuminated. Exposure to high thermal radiation during encounters is minimal so that, by using a passive design approach, the Express spacecraft can survive its relatively short duration, low altitude, flybys. lead time, long duration, Mercury missions ( NASA's Mercury Messenger and ESA's Bepi Colombo). Mercury Express features a systematic, multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Mercury, based on a robust instrumentation package which would return a high data volume (>100 Gbits). A well-instrumented spacecraft with equatorial periapses supported by two polar nanoprobes substantially expands the measurement capability provided by a single spacecraft. The two probes, each with a magnetometer and transponder (for radio science), are planed for release just before first encounter. and configured to fly over the planet's north and south poles while the main spacecraft flies over the equatorial region, thus

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 ...

  11. 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...

  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. Dynamic duo captures mercury

    SciTech Connect

    Senior, C.; Adams, B.

    2006-02-15

    There is strong evidence that the combination of wet flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) can prove a viable and formidable combination for knocking out mercury. This article analyzes the capabilities and limitations of the SCR-FGD combination for mercury compliance, including applicability to different types of coal and issues with scrubber by-products. 3 figs.

  14. Mercury in the environment

    ScienceCinema

    Idaho National Laboratory - Mike Abbott

    2016-07-12

    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. 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.

  16. Planets in Space (Julius Bartels Medal Lecture)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glassmeier, Karl-Heinz

    2010-05-01

    Interplanetary space is not void, but filled with photons and energetic particle of solar origin as well as the fast stream solar wind plasma. Planets and other planetary bodies such as comets and asteroids need to interact with this interplanetary medium. Different types of interaction are known, dependent on the properties of the planetary body. The parameter space in which the interaction is described is mainly spanned by the magnetic field of the body, the density of its atmosphere, and the solar wind dynamic pressure. Using the concept of ternary triangles, different possible interaction scenarios will be described. As no active planetary scale experiments are possible only a few points in the interaction space can be visited right now. The discovery of exo-planets will allow exploring the parameter space further. Also, temporal changes of the terrestrial magnetic field strength and the resulting paleo-interaction situations will be discussed as they represent additional points in parameter space. Furthermore, the interaction between a planetary body and the interplanetary medium will not only modify the solar wind streaming past, but the body itself experiences changes. Planetary bodies are thus treated as embedded systems. As an example the impact of an external magnetic field on planetary dynamo action is discussed. Possible connections with the small observed magnetic field of Mercury are mentioned.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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…

  1. 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.

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

  4. Accumulation of the Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wetherill, George W.

    2002-01-01

    The purpose of this project is to increase understanding of planet forming processes that are likely to have occurred in the Solar System during its early evolution. This was accomplished by development of computer models that are compatible with the present state of the Solar System as well as with observational and theoretical data attained from astrophysical observations and theory.

  5. 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.

  6. Nonuniform cratering of the terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Le Feuvre, Mathieu; Wieczorek, Mark A.

    2008-09-01

    We estimate the impact flux and cratering rate as a function of latitude on the terrestrial planets using a model distribution of planet crossing asteroids and comets [Bottke, W.F., Morbidelli, A., Jedicke, R., Petit, J.-M., Levison, H.F., Michel, P., Metcalfe, T.S., 2002. Icarus 156, 399-433]. After determining the planetary impact probabilities as a function of the relative encounter velocity and encounter inclination, the impact positions are calculated analytically, assuming the projectiles follow hyperbolic paths during the encounter phase. As the source of projectiles is not isotropic, latitudinal variations of the impact flux are predicted: the calculated ratio between the pole and equator is 1.05 for Mercury, 1.00 for Venus, 0.96 for the Earth, 0.90 for the Moon, and 1.14 for Mars over its long-term obliquity variation history. By taking into account the latitudinal dependence of the impact velocity and impact angle, and by using a crater scaling law that depends on the vertical component of the impact velocity, the latitudinal variations of the cratering rate (the number of craters with a given size formed per unit time and unit area) is in general enhanced. With respect to the equator, the polar cratering rate is about 30% larger on Mars and 10% on Mercury, whereas it is 10% less on the Earth and 20% less on the Moon. The cratering rate is found to be uniform on Venus. The relative global impact fluxes on Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars are calculated with respect to the Moon, and we find values of 1.9, 1.8, 1.6, and 2.8, respectively. Our results show that the relative shape of the crater size-frequency distribution does not noticeably depend upon latitude for any of the terrestrial bodies in this study. Nevertheless, by neglecting the expected latitudinal variations of the cratering rate, systematic errors of 20-30% in the age of planetary surfaces could exist between equatorial and polar regions when using the crater chronology method.

  7. What's Up With Mercury's 2nd-Degree Shape?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chen, E.; Phillips, R. J.; Zhong, S.

    2015-12-01

    The long-wavelength topography and geoid of a planet are basic observations fundamental to understanding the planet's thermal and dynamical history. Observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft have significantly reduced the uncertainty in the spherical harmonic 2nd-degree (l2) topography and gravity coefficients. Similar to those of the Moon, the long wavelength shape and geoid of Mercury are significantly out of hydrostatic equilibrium [Perry et al., 2015]. The diversion from equilibrium of the Moon has been attributed to orbital evolution and the "freezing-in" of a fossil bulge. With respect to Mercury, the disequilibrium of the l2 shape and geoid is unlikely to be due to its orbital history [Matsuyama and Nimmo, 2009]. Non-hydrostatic models can explain the gravity and shape of Mercury. Buoyancy from thermal anomalies isostatically supporting the surface falls short of reproducing the observed l2 admittance and topography. We explore three scenarios that can generate high admittances at degree-2: flexural/membrane loading on the surface, buoyant structures within the mantle, or topography on the core-mantle boundary. We discuss both isostatic and dynamic models of compensation, and include variations of viscosity structure and elastic properties. However, typical sources of these mechanisms (e.g. large volcanic provinces that collectively have symmetry about the equator or mantle convection with a strong l2 component) are not obviously present on Mercury.

  8. 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.

  9. Mapping Mercury's magnetic topology with solar energetic electrons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gershman, D. J.; Raines, J. M.; Slavin, J. A.; Zurbuchen, T.; Anderson, B. J.; Korth, H.; Ho, G. C.; Boardsen, S. A.; Cassidy, T. A.; Walsh, B.; Solomon, S. C.

    2015-12-01

    The inner heliosphere is bathed in MeV electrons during solar energetic particle (SEP) events. These relativistic electrons can enter the magnetosphere of Mercury via open magnetic field lines, nearly instantaneously filling the magnetospheric lobes and polar cap regions. Because of its thin shielding, the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer on the MErcury, Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft provides highly sensitive measurements of these energetic particles. From data during 11 SEP events that span 33 MESSENGER orbits, we find that sharp changes in observed energetic particle flux coincide precisely with topological boundaries in the magnetosphere such as the magnetopause, polar cap, and central plasma sheet. Precipitating electrons have been measured over the entire polar cap area, demonstrating that electron space weathering of Mercury's surface is not limited to the dayside cusp region. Although no direct measurement of low energy is made by MESSENGER, the physics elucidated by these observations suggests that suprathermal electrons from the nominal solar wind create a "polar rain" at Mercury, regularly showering the majority planet's surface with ~107-109 cm-2 s-1 fluxes of ~100 eV electrons. Finally, we observe enhanced MeV electron fluxes within the central plasma sheet that appear ordered by magnetic latitude rather than invariant latitude. Such structure implies that although these particles cannot form a stable ring current around the planet, their non-adiabatic motion nonetheless results in a quasi-trapped population at low latitudes in the magnetotail.

  10. Radar Imaging of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harmon, John K.

    2007-10-01

    Earth-based radar has been one of the few, and one of the most important, sources of new information about Mercury during the three decades since the Mariner 10 encounters. The emphasis during the past 15 years has been on full-disk, dual-polarization imaging of the planet, an effort that has been facilitated by the development of novel radar techniques and by improvements in radar systems. Probably the most important result of the imaging work has been the discovery and mapping of radar-bright features at the poles. The radar scattering properties of these features, and their confinement to permanently shaded crater floors, is consistent with volume backscatter from a low-loss volatile such as clean water ice. Questions remain, however, regarding the source and long-term stability of the putative ice, which underscores the need for independent confirmation by other observational methods. Radar images of the non-polar regions have also revealed a plethora of bright features, most of which are associated with fresh craters and their ejecta. Several very large impact features, with rays and other bright ejecta spreading over distances of 1,000 km or more, have been traced to source craters with diameters of 80-125 km. Among these large rayed features are some whose relative faintness suggests that they are being observed in an intermediate stage of degradation. Less extended ray/ejecta features have been found for some of the freshest medium-size craters such as Kuiper and Degas. Much more common are smaller (<40 km diameter) fresh craters showing bright rim-rings but little or no ray structure. These smaller radar-bright craters are particularly common over the H-7 quadrangle. Diffuse areas of enhanced depolarized brightness have been found in the smooth plains, including the circum-Caloris planitiae and Tolstoj Basin. This is an interesting finding, as it is the reverse of the albedo contrast seen between the radar-dark maria and the radar-bright cratered highlands

  11. Radar Imaging of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harmon, John K.

    Earth-based radar has been one of the few, and one of the most important, sources of new information about Mercury during the three decades since the Mariner 10 encounters. The emphasis during the past 15 years has been on full-disk, dual-polarization imaging of the planet, an effort that has been facilitated by the development of novel radar techniques and by improvements in radar systems. Probably the most important result of the imaging work has been the discovery and mapping of radar-bright features at the poles. The radar scattering properties of these features, and their confinement to permanently shaded crater floors, is consistent with volume backscatter from a low-loss volatile such as clean water ice. Questions remain, however, regarding the source and long-term stability of the putative ice, which underscores the need for independent confirmation by other observational methods. Radar images of the non-polar regions have also revealed a plethora of bright features, most of which are associated with fresh craters and their ejecta. Several very large impact features, with rays and other bright ejecta spreading over distances of 1,000 km or more, have been traced to source craters with diameters of 80-125 km. Among these large rayed features are some whose relative faintness suggests that they are being observed in an intermediate stage of degradation. Less extended ray/ejecta features have been found for some of the freshest medium-size craters such as Kuiper and Degas. Much more common are smaller (<40 km diameter) fresh craters showing bright rim-rings but little or no ray structure. These smaller radar-bright craters are particularly common over the H-7 quadrangle. Diffuse areas of enhanced depolarized brightness have been found in the smooth plains, including the circum-Caloris planitiae and Tolstoj Basin. This is an interesting finding, as it is the reverse of the albedo contrast seen between the radar-dark maria and the radar-bright cratered highlands

  12. 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.

  13. Mercury poisoning in wildlife

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Heinz, G.H.; Fairbrother, Anne; Locke, Louis N.; Hoff, Gerald L.

    1996-01-01

    Mercury is an intriguing contaminant because it has complex chemical properties, a wide range of harmful effects, and an infinite persistence in the environment. Die-offs of wildlife due to mercury have occurred in many countries, especially before mercury seed dressings were banned. Today, most mercury problems are associated with aquatic environments. Methylmercury, the most toxic chemical form, attacks many organ systems, but damage to the central nervous system is most severe. Harmful wet-weight concentrations of mercury, as methylmercury, in the tissues of adult birds and mammals range from about 8-30 ppm in the brain, 20-60 ppm in liver, 20-60 ppm in kidney, and 15-30 ppm in muscle. Young animals may be more sensitive.

  14. 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...

  15. 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...

  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. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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…

  20. Terrestrial Planets Accreted Dry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Albarede, F.; Blichert-Toft, J.

    2007-12-01

    Plate tectonics shaped the Earth, whereas the Moon is a dry and inactive desert. Mars probably came to rest within the first billion years of its history, and Venus, although internally very active, has a dry inferno for its surface. The strong gravity field of a large planet allows for an enormous amount of gravitational energy to be released, causing the outer part of the planetary body to melt (magma ocean), helps retain water on the planet, and increases the pressure gradient. The weak gravity field and anhydrous conditions prevailing on the Moon stabilized, on top of its magma ocean, a thick buoyant plagioclase lithosphere, which insulated the molten interior. On Earth, the buoyant hydrous phases (serpentines) produced by reactions between the terrestrial magma ocean and the wet impactors received from the outer Solar System isolated the magma and kept it molten for some few tens of million years. The elemental distributions and the range of condensation temperatures show that the planets from the inner Solar System accreted dry. The interior of planets that lost up to 95% of their K cannot contain much water. Foundering of their wet surface material softened the terrestrial mantle and set the scene for the onset of plate tectonics. This very same process may have removed all the water from the surface of Venus 500 My ago and added enough water to its mantle to make its internal dynamics very strong and keep the surface very young. Because of a radius smaller than that of the Earth, not enough water could be drawn into the Martian mantle before it was lost to space and Martian plate tectonics never began. The radius of a planet therefore is the key parameter controlling most of its evolutional features.

  1. MESSENGER observations of Mercury's magnetic field structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Catherine L.; Purucker, Michael E.; Korth, Haje; Anderson, Brian J.; Winslow, Reka M.; Al Asad, Manar M. H.; Slavin, James A.; Alexeev, Igor. I.; Phillips, Roger J.; Zuber, Maria T.; Solomon, Sean C.

    2012-12-01

    We present a baseline, time-averaged model for Mercury's magnetosphere, derived from MESSENGER Magnetometer data from 24 March to 12 December 2011, comprising the spacecraft's first three Mercury years in orbit around the innermost planet. The model, constructed under the approximation that the magnetospheric shape can be represented as a paraboloid of revolution, includes two external (magnetopause and magnetotail) current systems and an internal (dipole) field and allows for reconnection. We take advantage of the geometry of the orbital Magnetometer data to estimate all but one of the model parameters, and their ranges, directly from the observations. These parameters are then used as a priori constraints in the paraboloid magnetospheric model, and the sole remaining parameter, the dipole moment, is estimated as 190 nT RM3 from a grid search. We verify that the best fit dipole moment is insensitive to changes in the other parameters within their determined ranges. The model provides an excellent first-order fit to the MESSENGER observations, with a root-mean-square misfit of less than 20 nT globally. The results show that the magnetopause field strength ranges from 10% to 50% of the dipole field strength at observation locations on the dayside and at nightside latitudes north of 60°N. Globally, the residual signatures observed to date are dominated by the results of magnetospheric processes, confirming the dynamic nature of Mercury's magnetosphere.

  2. 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.

  3. Polarimetry of gas planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Joos, Franco

    The quest for new worlds was not only an adventure at the times of Columbus. Also nowadays mankind searches for new, undiscovered territories. But today they lie no longer only on our Earth, but also well outside the solar system. There, new planets are sought and found. One of the challenges of modern astrophysics is the direct detection of extra- solar planets. To reach this goal, the largest available telescopes and most sophisticated detection techniques are required. A promising method to "see" and analyse extra-solar planets is based on the fact, that light reflected by a planet can be polarised. For its detection, accurate polarisation measurements are needed. This is one of the methods ESO intends to make use of to find new planets outside the solar system. The Institute of Astronomy of ETH Zürich contributes ZIMPOL to this planet-finder project. ZIMPOL is a very sensitive imaging polarimeter. This thesis is situated within the ESO-planet-finder project. It deals with two problems that are crucial for a successful mission: (1) Instrumental polarisation can seriously hamper the performance of the instrument. It is therefore essential, to keep instrumental polarisation very low. (2) A knowledge of the polarisation properties of our targets would be very helpful. For this reason the polarisation properties of our solar system planets are investigated. Promising candidates for a detection with ZIMPOL are large planets with atmospheres similar to those of our giant gas planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In the first part of the thesis the planet-finder project is presented and the role of ZIMPOL is explained. To obtain the instrumental polarisation, the polarimetric properties of mirrors and other optical components of our planet- finder instrument are analysed. The instrumental polarisation for the wavelength range of 600 to 1000 nm and for all zenith distances is calculated with Mueller matrices. Methods for reducing the instrumental polarisation

  4. 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.…

  5. The asteroidal impact rate upon the terrestrial planets - an update

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Olsson-Steel, Duncan

    Up to May 1989, there were seven known Aten-type, 58 Amor-type, and 57 Apollo asteroids. For each of these asteroids, the probability of a collision with Mercury, Venus, earth, and Mars is calculated using the methods of Kessler (1981) and Steel and Baggaley (1985). In addition, the minimum and maximum possible encounter velocities are given. The results indicate that, for Mercury, there are eight possible impactors, with a mean collision probability of 1.30 x 10 to the -9th per year; for Venus, there are 32 planet-crossing asteroids, with a mean collision probability of 9.63 x 10 to the -9th per year; and for Mars, 116 possible impactors gave 3.41 x 10 to the -10th per year. The corresponding figures for are 65 and 6.93 x 10 to the -9th per year.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Trojan twin planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dvorak, R.; Loibnegger, B.; Schwarz, R.

    2017-03-01

    The Trojan asteroids are moving in the vicinity of the stable Lagrange points L_4 and L_5 of the gas giants Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. Their motion can be described and understood with the aid of the restricted three-body problem. As an extension of this problem we investigate how stable motion close to the Lagrange points of two massive bodies can exist. This configuration can be described as the Trojan Twin Problem when we regard the two additional bodies as having a mass significantly smaller than the the two primary bodies: a star in the center (m_1) and an additional Jupiter-like mass (m_2). Using this 4-body problem we have undertaken numerical investigations concerning possible stable "twin orbits". However, these two bodies (m_3 and m_4) in Trojan-like orbits may have quite different masses. We decided to choose 6 different scenaria for this problem: as primary body, m2, we have taken a Jupiter-like planet, a Saturn-like one, and a super-Earth with 10 Earthmasses (m_{Earth}) respectively. As quasi twin planets, we have used different mass ratios namely objects for m3 and m4 from 10m_{Earth} to Moon like ones. We found different stable configurations depending on the involved masses and the initial distances between the twins (always close to the Lagrange point). Although the formation of such a configuration seems to be not very probable we should not exclude that it exists regarding the huge number of planets even in our own galaxy. This model is of special interest when the most massive planet (m_2) is moving on an orbit in the habitable zone around a main sequence star. One can use our results of stable orbits of Trojan Twin Planets (or asteroids) for extrasolar systems having as second primary a Jupiter-like, a Saturn-like or a super-Earth like planet around a star similar to our Sun.

  10. Wandering stars. About planets and exo-planets: an introductory notebook

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cole, George H. A.

    solar/cosmic abundance of the elements. 8.2. The formation of molecules. 8.3. The compositions of terrestrial materials. 8.4. The moon. 8.5. Venus. 8.6. The material of the Solar System. 8.7. Material in orbit. 9. Finding the ages of rocks: geochronology. 9.1. Atoms and radioactive decay. 9.2. Nuclear reactions. 9.3. An elementary method for dating rocks. 9.4. The closure temperature. 9.5. Selecting a particular decay mode. 9.6. Dating using nuclear reactors. 10. Surfaces and interiors. 10.1. The surface figure. 10.2. The interior. 10.3. The near-surface interior region. 10.4. Free body oscillations. 10.5. Empirical equations of state. 10.6. Fluid bodies. 11. The solid earth. 11.1. General parameters. 11.2. The interior seismic structure. 11.3. An active structure. 11.4. Plates and plate tectonics. 11.5. The inner and outer cores. 11.6. A dynamic earth. 11.7. Comments on the atmosphere. 12. The planets: Mercury and Mars. 12.1. Rotation and temperature. 12.2. Surface details. 12.3. Internal structure of mercury. 12.4. The Mercury atmosphere. 12.5. The general topology of Mars. 12.6. Martian geology. 12.7. Thermal Mars. 12.8. The internal structure of Mars. 12.9. The atmosphere of Mars. 12.10. A tentative history of Mars. 13. Planet Venus. 13.1. First views of the surface. 13.2. Surface details. 13.3. The Venus interior. 13.4. Venus atmosphere. 14. The planets: Jupiter and Saturn. 14.1. Surface features. 14.2. The heat budgets. 14.3. Visible surface compositions. 14.4. General comments on internal conditions. 14.5. Detailed model interiors. 14.6. Comment on interior heat flow. 14.7. Intrinsic magnetic fields. 15. The planets: Uranus and Neptune. 15.1. Surface features. 15.2. Heat budgets. 15.3. Visible surface compositions. 15.4. Internal structure and conditions. 15.5. Comment on interior heat flow. 15.6. Intrinsic magnetism. 16. Satellites of the Solar System. 16.1. The moon. 16.2. The satellites of Mars. 16.3. The larger satellites. 16.4. The smaller satellites. 16

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  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. Perpetual long libration of terrestrial planets in tidal resonances

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Makarov, Valeri

    2015-11-01

    On the example of Mercury, I show that firm planets of terrestrial composition, locked in the 3:2 or higher spin-orbit resonances, undergo long-period perpetual libration in longitude without any influence of third bodies. This non-damped libration at the natural frequency is driven by a secular tidal torque, which is increasing with frequency within a narrow interval around the resonance. The spectrum of regular forced, eccentricity-driven, libration defines the conditions for the perpetual long libration. The possibility of validating the tidal theory from the observable amplitude of perpetual libration is discussed.

  16. Validating Kepler Planet Candidates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.; Torres, G.; Marcy, G.; Brown, T.; Gilliland, R.; Gautier, T. N.; Isaacson, H.; Dupree, A.; Kepler Science Team

    2011-01-01

    The Kepler Science Team has identified more than 700 transit-like signatures in the first 43 days of data returned from the spacecraft (Borucki et al. 2010, arXiv1006.2799B). However, only 7 of these candidates have been confirmed as planets as of late September 2010. The number of true planets in this sample is clearly far larger than 7, but the sample is also 'contaminated' with false-positives, including many from eclipsing binary stars. Separating the wheat from the chaff requires a careful study of individual candidates using both Kepler photometry and spectroscopic and imaging data from the ground. Techniques that the Science Team is developing to address these issues, which include detailed analysis of the photometric data and follow-up observations with ground-based telescopes, will be presented. Kepler was selected as the 10th mission of the Discovery Program. Funding for this mission is provided by NASA, Science Mission Directorate.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Thallium Mercury Laser Development.

    DTIC Science & Technology

    1980-04-17

    AD-A9 840 WESTINGHOUSE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER PITTSBU--ETC F/A 20/5 THALLIUM MERCURY LASER DEVELOPMENT .(U) APR 80 C S LIU, D W FELDMAN, J L...PACK NO001I78-C-0131 lIlrt A nEQE-WOTFX-R NL THALLIUM MERCURY LASER DEVELOPMENT C. S. Liu, D. W. Feldman and J. L. Pack FINAL REPORT (PHASE II...PERIOD COVERED Thallium Mercury Laser Development -T- Final Report (Phase II) Feb. 1, 1979 to Jan. 31, 1980 77a. w-atF. -REPORT NUMBER _,___C2-OTEX

  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. Theories of Giant Planet Formation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.; Young, Richard E. (Technical Monitor)

    1998-01-01

    An overview of current theories of planetary formation, with emphasis on giant planets, is presented. The most detailed models are based upon observations of our own Solar System and of young stars and their environments. While these models predict that rocky planets should form around most single stars, the frequency of formation of gas giant planets is more difficult to predict theoretically. 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 as do terrestrial planets, but they become massive enough that they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas before the protoplanetary disk dissipates. Most models for extrasolar giant planets suggest that they formed as did Jupiter and Saturn (in nearly circular orbits, far enough from the star that ice could), and subsequently migrated to their current positions, although some models suggest in situ formation.

  2. Observed properties of extrasolar planets.

    PubMed

    Howard, Andrew W

    2013-05-03

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Formation of Giant Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lin, Douglas

    1999-01-01

    Under the support of NASA Origins grant, we studied the formation of gaps in protoplanetary disks due the tidal interaction between a fully grown protoplanet and protostellar disk. The result of this study is published in the Astrophysical Journal, (vol 514, 344-367, 1999) and in several conference proceedings. The main focus of this work is to analyze planet-disk interaction during the final stages of protoplanetary formation.

  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. The BepiColombo Mercury surface element

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Novara, M.

    2001-12-01

    Several versions of a Mercury surface element, part of the ESA BepiColombo Mercury Cornerstone mission to be launched in 2009, have been studied. The major constraint on system design has been the need to maximise the useful system mass on the surface of Mercury. The absence of atmosphere on the planet forces the adoption of a purely propulsive descent and landing system. The need to maintain the shock level at landing below limits which are acceptable to the payload imposes the adoption of a precise guidance, navigation & control system, which allows a drastic reduction of the landing speed, and therefore the adoption of an airbag landing system. Surface mobility is an obvious requirement for the purpose of geochemical exploration, since selected rocks have a much higher scientific yield than the average regolith. Geophysical investigations require that thermal, accelerometric, and densitometric probes be brought in contact with subsurface regions, to a depth of several metres. Magnetometric measurements may need deployment of sensors to some distance from the bulk of the lander body. The thermal environment on the surface of Mercury is extreme, even in the polar regions that will be targeted by the BepiColombo lander, while the solar flux rises seasonally to 10 times the one experienced in Earth orbit. The need to provide a low-temperature heat sink to sensors is particularly critical, if these are installed on a small-size, small-mass mobile deployment device. A consequence of the landing in a polar region will be the extremely variable lighting conditions, with extended portions of the surface shrouded in darkness by any small surface obstacle. Limitations on communications between Earth and the deployed payload will be caused by the low available data rate and by visibility windows (contact may be restricted to as little as <10 min every 9.5 h). This will impose a high degree of autonomy to be built into the payload systems.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. The Multi-Platform Flyby Approach to Mercury Exploration

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clark, P. E.; McKenna-Lawlor, S.; Curtis, S. A.; Marr, G.

    2002-01-01

    1 mission which would arrive at Mercury 100 days after launch and provide sophisticated scientific measurements not available in principle from orbiters, while being far less risky, time-consuming, and costly from an operations standpoint. Our `Mercury Express' is fast, low cost, low risk, high heritage, and high return, has a large instrument payload with 2 easily-deployed mini-probes of <10 kg each, and can complete an overview of the surface within 1 year from launch, as early as 2006, after 2 encounters. The mission concept was developed at NASA/GSFC from previously undiscovered yearly opportunities for flyby trajectories which take advantage of Mercury's spin orbital resonance and allow the spacecraft to encounter Mercury repeatedly at the same relative position in its revolution around the sun, when hemispheres are alternately illuminated. The Mercury Express exploits the ability of an inexpensive launch vehicle to directly transfer a payload from Earth to Mercury in 100 days and return to Mercury for a second encounter 264 days later when the planet's opposite side is illuminated. Exposure to high thermal radiation during encounters is minimal: by using a passive design approach, the Express spacecraft can survive its relatively short duration, low altitude flybys. time, long duration Mercury missions, the NASA Mercury Messenger and ESA Mercury Cornerstone missions. The Mercury Express features a systematic, multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Mercury, as well as a robust instrumentation package which would return a very high data volume (>100 Gbits). A well-instrumented spacecraft with equatorial periapses supported by two polar nanoprobes substantially expands the measurement capability of a single spacecraft. The two probes, each with a magnetometer and transponder (for radio science), are released just before first encounter are targeted to fly over north and south poles while the main spacecraft flies over the equatorial region, to provide the

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  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.

    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.

  18. 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

  19. 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).

  20. 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

    2010-08-06

    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.

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

    PubMed

    Lithwick, Yoram; Wu, Yanqin

    2014-09-02

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. The gravity field and orientation of Mercury after the MESSENGER mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mazarico, E.; Genova, A.; Goossens, S. J.; Lemoine, F. G.; Neumann, G. A.; Zuber, M. T.; Smith, D. E.; Solomon, S. C.

    2015-12-01

    After more than four years in orbit about Mercury, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft impacted the planet's surface north of Shakespeare crater (54.44° N, 210.12° E,) on 30 April 2015. One of the main goals of the mission was to determine the gravity field of Mercury in order to learn about Mercury's interior. Together with ground-based radar measurements of the obliquity and forced librations, MESSENGER-derived gravity models helped revise models of Mercury's interior. Nevertheless, the refinement of Mercury's orientation with the latest data from MESSENGER can further improve the interior modeling of the planet. The last eight months of the mission provided a special opportunity to conduct low-altitude measurements, with extensive radio tracking coverage below 200 km altitude north of ~30°N. MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) mapped the topography of Mercury's northern hemisphere with a sub-meter vertical precision, an along-track sampling of ~500 m, and a longitudinal resolution (~0.1°) limited by the number of spacecraft orbits (~4,000). The combination of gravity and topography helps determine crustal thickness and interior properties. Altimetric ranges provide geodetic constraints to improve the spacecraft orbit determination, and thus the gravity field model. In particular, whereas the MESSENGER spacecraft was not tracked at each periapsis passage, MLA operated nearly continuously (outside of thermally challenging periods). From an analysis of the entire radiometric and altimetric datasets acquired by MESSENGER, a new gravity field to degree and order 100 has been obtained, resolving features down to ~75 km horizontal scale. The altimetric data help reduce the uncertainties in the determination of the pole position. A reanalysis of the Mercury flybys also constrains the spin rate over the longest available time span.

  4. 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

  5. Mercury cycling in terrestrial watersheds

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shanley, James B.; Bishop, Kevin; Banks, Michael S.

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Ecosystem conceptual model- Mercury

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Alpers, Charles N.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Foe, Chris; Klasing, Susan; Marvin-DiPasquale, Mark C.; Slotton, Darell G.; Windham-Myers, Lisamarie

    2008-01-01

    Mercury has been identified as an important contaminant in the Delta, based on elevated concentrations of methylmercury (a toxic, organic form that readily bioaccumulates) in fish and wildlife. There are health risks associated with human exposure to methylmercury by consumption of sport fish, particularly top predators such as bass species. Original mercury sources were upstream tributaries where historical mining of mercury in the Coast Ranges and gold in the Sierra Nevada and Klamath-Trinity Mountains caused contamination of water and sediment on a regional scale. Remediation of abandoned mine sites may reduce local sources in these watersheds, but much of the mercury contamination occurs in sediments stored in the riverbeds, floodplains, and the Bay- Delta, where scouring of Gold-Rush-era sediment represents an ongoing source.Conversion of inorganic mercury to toxic methylmercury occurs in anaerobic environments including some wetlands. Wetland restoration managers must be cognizant of potential effects on mercury cycling so that the problem is not exacerbated. Recent research suggests that wettingdrying cycles can contribute to mercury methylation. For example, high marshes (inundated only during the highest tides for several days per month) tend to have higher methylmercury concentrations in water, sediment, and biota compared with low marshes, which do not dry out completely during the tidal cycle. Seasonally inundated flood plains are another environment experiencing wetting and drying where methylmercury concentrations are typically elevated. Stream restoration efforts using gravel injection or other reworking of coarse sediment in most watersheds of the Central Valley involve tailings from historical gold mining that are likely to contain elevated mercury in associated fines. Habitat restoration projects, particularly those involving wetlands, may cause increases in methylmercury exposure in the watershed. This possibility should be evaluated.The DRERIP

  10. The Origin of the Compositional Diversity of Mercury's Surface Constrained From Experimental Melting of Enstatite Chondrites

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

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

    2015-01-01

    Mercury is known as an endmember planet as it is the most reduced terrestrial planet with the highest core/mantle ratio. MESSENGER spacecraft has shown that its surface is FeO-poor (2-4 wt%) and Srich (up to 6-7 wt%), which confirms the reducing nature of its silicate mantle. Moreover, high resolution images revealed large volcanic plains and abundant pyroclastic deposits, suggesting important melting stages of the Mercurian mantle. This interpretation was confirmed by the high crustal thickness (up to 100 km) derived from Mercury's gravity field. This is also corroborated by a recent experimental result that showed that Mercurian partial melts are expected to be highly buoyant within the Mercurian mantle and could have risen from depths as high as the core-mantle boundary. In addition MESSENGER spacecraft provided relatively precise data on major elemental compositions of Mercury's surface. These results revealed important chemical and mineralogical heterogeneities that suggested several stages of differentiation and re-melting processes. However, 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). Therefore, in this study, we investigated the processes that lead to the various compositions of Mercury's surface. Melting experiments with bulk Mercury-analogue compositions were performed and compared to the compositions measured by MESSENGER.

  11. Measurement of the radius of Mercury by radio occultation during the MESSENGER flybys

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Mark E.; Kahan, Daniel S.; Barnouin, Olivier S.; Ernst, Carolyn M.; Solomon, Sean C.; Zuber, Maria T.; Smith, David E.; Phillips, Roger J.; Srinivasan, Dipak K.; Oberst, Jürgen; Asmar, Sami W.

    2011-12-01

    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft completed three flybys of Mercury in 2008-2009. During the first and third of those flybys, MESSENGER passed behind the planet from the perspective of Earth, occulting the radio-frequency (RF) transmissions. The occultation start and end times, recovered with 0.1 s accuracy or better by fitting edge-diffraction patterns to the RF power history, are used to estimate Mercury's radius at the tangent point of the RF path. To relate the measured radius to the planet shape, we evaluate local topography using images to identify the high-elevation feature that defines the RF path or using altimeter data to quantify surface roughness. Radius measurements are accurate to 150 m, and uncertainty in the average radius of the surrounding terrain, after adjustments are made from the local high at the tangent point of the RF path, is 350 m. The results are consistent with Mercury's equatorial shape as inferred from observations by the Mercury Laser Altimeter and ground-based radar. The three independent estimates of radius from occultation events collectively yield a mean radius for Mercury of 2439.2±0.5 km.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. The Search for Planet Nine

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brown, Michael E.; Batygin, Konstantin

    2016-10-01

    We use an extensive suite of numerical simulations to constrain the mass and orbit of Planet Nine, and we use these constraints to begin the search for this newly proposed planet in new and in archival data. Here, we compare our simulations to the observed population of aligned eccentric high semimajor axis Kuiper belt objects and determine which simulation parameters are statistically compatible with the observations. We find that only a narrow range of orbital elements can reproduce the observations. In particular, the combination of semimajor axis, eccentricity, and mass of Planet Nine strongly dictates the semimajor axis range of the orbital confinement of the distant eccentric Kuiper belt objects. Allowed orbits, which confine Kuiper belt objects with semimajor axis beyond 380 AU, have perihelia roughly between 150 and 350 AU, semimajor axes between 380 and 980 AU, and masses between 5 and 20 Earth masses. Orbitally confined objects also generally have orbital planes similar to that of the planet, suggesting that the planet is inclined approximately 30 degrees to the ecliptic. We compare the allowed orbital positions and estimated brightness of Planet Nine to previous and ongoing surveys which would be sensitive to the planet's detection and use these surveys to rule out approximately two-thirds of the planet's orbit. Planet Nine is likely near aphelion with an approximate brightness of 22planet.

  15. Formation of Outer Planets: Overview

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack

    2003-01-01

    An overview of current theories of planetary formation, with emphasis on giant planets is presented. The most detailed models are based upon observation of our own Solar System and of young stars and their environments. Terrestrial planets are believe 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. According to the prevailing core instability model, giant planets begin their growth by the accumulation of small solid bodies, as do terrestrial planets. However, unlike terrestrial planets, the growing giant cores become massive enough that they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas before the protoplanetary disk disspates. The primary questions regarding the core instability model is whether planets with small cores can accrete gaseous enveloples within the lifetimes of gaseous protoplanetary disks. The main alternative giant planet formation model is the disk instability model, in which gaseous planets form directly via gravitational instabilities within protoplanetary disks. Formation of giant planets via gas instability has never been demonstrated for realistic disk conditions. Moreover, this model has difficulty explaining the supersolar abundances of heavy elements in Jupiter and Saturn, and it does not explain the orgin of planets like Uranus and Neptune.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Mercury exposure and public health.

    PubMed

    Clifton, Jack C

    2007-04-01

    Mercury is a metal that is a liquid at room temperature. Mercury has a long and interesting history deriving from its use in medicine and industry, with the resultant toxicity produced. In high enough doses, all forms of mercury can produce toxicity. The most devastating tragedies related to mercury toxicity in recent history include Minamata Bay and Niagata, Japan in the 1950s, and Iraq in the 1970s. More recent mercury toxicity issues include the extreme toxicity of the dimethylmercury compound noted in 1998, the possible toxicity related to dental amalgams, and the disproved relationship between vaccines and autism related to the presence of the mercury-containing preservative, thimerosal.

  19. Blood serum mercury test report.

    PubMed

    Vandenberge, J; Moodie, A S; Keller, R E

    1977-06-01

    A clinical blood serum mercury test of 111 dentists and auxiliaries revelaed that more than 50% had above normal serum mercury levels. This study showed that there may be a mercury health hazard in some dental environments. Acute mercury poisoning may be corrected simply by removing the cause, but long-term chronic effects are not known. Frequent screening of offices and personnel is advised. Experience reported here indicates that large amounts of mercury vapor are emitted when an amalgam carrier is heated over a flame ot dislodge particles, and also, that water-covered amalgam scrap relesases mercury vapor.

  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. The cratering record on Mercury and the origin of impacting objects

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Strom, Robert G.; Neukum, Gerhard

    1988-01-01

    The cratering records of terrestrial planets are discussed with special consideration given to Mercury. The geologic units on Mercury most relevant to its cratering record are reviewed, and new observations are presented on the issues of equilibrium and saturation. The implications of the Mercurian cratering record for geologic processes are examined. Particular attention is given to the origin of objects responsible for the period of late heavy bombardment on terrestrial planets; it is suggested that the impactors were accretional remnants left over from the formation of the terrestrial planets and confined to the inner solar system. The cratering record in the outer solar system may have been produced largely by objects in planetocentric orbits.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. A new estimate of micrometeoritic flux at Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-04-01

    Meteoroid impacts are an important source of neutral atoms in the exosphere of Mercury. Recent papers attribute to impacting particles smaller than 1 cm the major contribution to exospheric gases. However, fluxes and impact velocities for different sizes are based on old extrapolations of similar quantities at the Earth. In this work, in order to determine the meteoritic flux at the heliocentric distance of Mercury we utilize the dynamical evolution model of dust particles of Marzari and Vanzani (1994) that numerically solves a (N+1)+M body problem (Sun + N planets + M body with zero mass) with the high-precision integrator RA15 (Everhart 1985). The solar radiation pressure and Poynting-Robertson drag, together with the gravitational interactions of the planets, are taken as major perturbing forces affecting the orbital evolution of the dust particles. From our numerical simulations we extrapolate the flux of particles hitting Mercury's surface and the corresponding distribution of impact velocities. A precise calibration of the particle flux on Mercury has been performed by comparing the predictions of our model concerning the dust infall on the Earth with experimental data. The model provide the flux of different size particles impacting Mercury and their collisional velocity distribution. We compare our results with previous estimates, in particular we take into account the work of Cintala (1992), and we find lower velocities but significantly higher fluxes. Our results show that the number of impacts given by Cintala, measured in N/years, is 80.2 times higher, but the flux measured in g• cm2s, is 409.4 times lower. We can conclude that our model predicts a number of impacts smaller than Cintala, but a much higher mass contribution.

  7. 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

  8. 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...

  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. Observations of Magnetic Reconnection and Plasma Dynamics in Mercury's Magnetosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    DiBraccio, Gina A.

    Mercury's magnetosphere is formed as a result of the supersonic solar wind interacting with the planet's intrinsic magnetic field. The combination of the weak planetary dipole moment and intense solar wind forcing of the inner heliosphere creates a unique space environment, which can teach us about planetary magnetospheres. In this work, we analyze the first in situ orbital observations at Mercury, provided by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. Magnetic reconnection and the transport of plasma and magnetic flux are investigated using MESSENGER Magnetometer and Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer measurements. Here, we report our results on the effect of magnetic reconnection and plasma dynamics on Mercury's space environment: (1) Mercury's magnetosphere is driven by frequent, intense magnetic reconnection observed in the form of magnetic field components normal to the magnetopause, BN, and as helical bundles of flux, called magnetic flux ropes, in the cross-tail current sheet. The high reconnection rates are determined to be a direct consequence of the low plasma beta, the ratio of plasma to magnetic pressure, in the inner heliosphere. (2) As upstream solar wind conditions vary, we find that reconnection occurs at Mercury's magnetopause for all orientations of the interplanetary magnetic field, independent of shear angle. During the most extreme solar wind forcing events, the influence of induction fields generated within Mercury's highly conducting core are negated by erosion due to persistent magnetopause reconnection. (3) We present the first observations of Mercury's plasma mantle, which forms as a result of magnetopause reconnection and allows solar wind plasma to enter into the high-latitude magnetotail through the dayside cusps. The energy dispersion observed in the plasma mantle protons is used to infer the cross-magnetosphere electric field, providing a direct measurement of solar wind momentum

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. The Star, the Dwarf and the Planet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2006-10-01

    Astronomers have detected a new faint companion to the star HD 3651, already known to host a planet. This companion, a brown dwarf, is the faintest known companion of an exoplanet host star imaged directly and one of the faintest T dwarfs detected in the Solar neighbourhood so far. The detection yields important information on the conditions under which planets form. "Such a system is an interesting example that might prove that planets and brown dwarfs can form around the same star", said Markus Mugrauer, lead author of the paper presenting the discovery. ESO PR Photo 39a/06 ESO PR Photo 39a/06 The Companion to HD 3651 HD 3651 is a star slightly less massive than the Sun, located 36 light-years away in the constellation Pisces (the "Fish"). For several years, it has been known to harbour a planet less massive than Saturn, sitting closer to its parent star than Mercury is from the Sun: the planet accomplishes a full orbit in 62 days. Mugrauer and his colleagues first spotted the faint companion in 2003 on images from the 3.8-m United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii. Observations in 2004 and 2006 using ESO's 3.6 m New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla provided the crucial confirmation that the speck of light is not a spurious background star, but indeed a true companion. The newly found companion, HD 3651B, is 16 times further away from HD 3651 than Neptune is from the Sun. HD 3651B is the dimmest directly imaged companion of an exoplanet host star. Furthermore, as it is not detected on the photographic plates of the Palomar All Sky Survey, the companion must be even fainter in the visible spectral range than in the infrared, meaning it is a very cool low-mass sub-stellar object. Comparing its characteristics with theoretical models, the astronomers infer that the object has a mass between 20 and 60 Jupiter masses, and a temperature between 500 and 600 degrees Celsius. It is thus ten times colder and 300 000 less luminous than the Sun. These

  14. 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

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Formation of the giant planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lissauer, Jack J.

    2006-01-01

    The observed properties of giant planets, models of their evolution and observations of protoplanetary disks provide constraints on the formation of gas giant planets. The four largest planets in our Solar System contain considerable quantities of hydrogen and helium, which could not have condensed into solid planetesimals within the protoplanetary disk. All three (transiting) extrasolar giant planets with well determined masses and radii also must contain substantial amounts of these light gases. Jupiter and Saturn are mostly hydrogen and helium, but have larger abundances of heavier elements than does the Sun. Neptune and Uranus are primarily composed of heavier elements. HD 149026 b, which is slightly more massive than is Saturn, appears to have comparable quantities of light gases and heavy elements. HD 209458 b and TrES-1 are primarily hydrogen and helium, but may contain supersolar abundances of heavy elements. Spacecraft flybys and observations of satellite orbits provide estimates of the gravitational moments of the giant planets in our Solar System, which in turn provide information on the internal distribution of matter within Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Atmospheric thermal structure and heat flow measurements constrain the interior temperatures of planets. Internal processes may cause giant planets to become more compositionally differentiated or alternatively more homogeneous; high-pressure laboratory .experiments provide data useful for modeling these processes. The preponderance of evidence supports the core nucleated gas accretion model. According to this model, giant planets begin their growth by the accumulation of small solid bodies, as do terrestrial planets. However, unlike terrestrial planets, the growing giant planet cores become massive enough that they are able to accumulate substantial amounts of gas before the protoplanetary disk dissipates. The primary questions regarding the core nucleated growth model is under what conditions

  19. 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…

  20. Conditions of Passage and Entrapment of Terrestrial Planets in Spin-Orbit Resonances

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2012-06-10

    a matter of speculation for the foreseeable future, it seems reasonable to adopt the parameters and models obtained for the Earth and the Moon. The...objective of this paper is to investigate the circumstances of the transition of a Mercury-like planet with an Earth -like rheology through a high-order...and nutation of the planet, the triaxial torque is (Danby 1962; Goldreich & Peale 1966) TTRI = −3 2 (B − A)n2 a 3 r3 sin 2(θ − ν). (2) Using the

  1. The Constraint of Coplanarity: Compact multi-planet system outer architectures and formation.-UP

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jontof-Hutter, Daniel

    The Kepler mission discovered 92 systems with 4 or more transiting exoplanets. Systems like Kepler-11 with six "mini-Neptunes" on orbital periods well inside that of Venus pose a challenge to planet formation theory which is broadly split into two competing paradigms. One theory invokes the formation of Neptunes beyond the "snow line", followed by inward migration and assembly into compact configurations near the star. The alternative is that low density planets form in situ at all distances in the protoplanetary nebula. The two paradigms disagree on the occurrence of Jovian planets at longer orbital periods than the transiting exoplanets since such massive planets would impede the inward migration of multiple volatile-rich planets to within a fraction of 1 AU. The likelihood of all the known planets at systems like Kepler-11 to be transiting is very sensitive to presence of outer Jovian planets for a wide range in orbital distance and relative inclination of the Jovian planet. This can put upper limits on the occurrence of Jovian planets by the condition that the six known planets have to have low mutual inclinations most of the time in order for their current cotransiting state to be plausible. Most of these systems have little or no RV data. Hence, our upper limits may be the best constraints on the occurrence of Jovian planets in compact co-planar systems for years to come, and may help distinguish the two leading paradigms of planet formation theory. Methodology. We propose to use an established n-body code (MERCURY) to perform long-term simulations of systems like Kepler-11 with the addition of a putative Jovian planet considering a range of orbital distances. These simulations will test for which initial conditions a Jovian planet would prevent the known planets from all transiting at the same time. We will 1) determine at what orbital distances and inclinations an outer Jovian planet would make the observed configuration of Kepler-11 very unlikely. 2) Test

  2. ISA - An Accelerometer to Detect the Disturbing Accelerations Acting on the Mercury Planetary Orbiter of the BepiColombo ESA Cornerstone Mission to Mercury: on Ground Calibration

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iafolla, V.; Lucchesi, D. M.; Nozzoli, S.; Santoli, F.; Fois, M.; Persichini, M.

    2006-06-01

    To reach the ambitious goals of the Radio Science Experiment of the BepiColombo space mission to Mercury, among which the planet structure and rotation and test Einstein's theory of General Relativity (GR) to an unprecedented accuracy, an accelerometer has been selected to fly on-board the MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter), the main spacecraft of the two to be placed around the innermost planet of our solar system around 2017. The key role of the on-board accelerometer is to remove from the list of unknowns the non-gravitational accelerations that disturbs the pure gravitational orbit of the MPO spacecraft in the strong radiation environment of Mercury. In this way the ``corrected'' orbit of the MPO may be regarded as a geodesic in the field of Mercury. Then, thanks to the very precise tracking from Earth, the possibility to study Mercury's center-of-mass around the Sun and estimate several parameters related to the planet structure and verify the theory of GR. The selected accelerometer named ISA (Italian Spring Accelerometer) is an high sensitive instrument with an intrinsic noise of 10-10 g⊕ / Hz (with g⊕ ≅ 9.8 m / s2) in the frequency band 3 . 10-5 -10-1 Hz. ISA is a three axis accelerometer with a characteristic configuration, in order to minimize the disturbing accelerations due to the gravity-gradients and the apparent forces on the Nadir pointing MPO spacecraft. Because of the complex and strong radiation environment of Mercury, the modelling of the non-gravitational acceleration is quite difficult, while, with the use of ISA accelerometer we are able to gain a factor 100 in accuracy. In this brief paper we will focus on the characteristics of the ISA accelerometer, on its positioning on-board the MPO and in particularly to the techniques for on ground calibration, avoiding the effects of the Earth gravity.

  3. 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.

  4. Mercury Emissions: The Global Context

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    Mercury emissions are a global problem that knows no national or continental boundaries. Mercury that is emitted to the air can travel thousands of miles in the atmosphere before it is eventually deposited back to the earth.

  5. Mercury Study Report to Congress

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    EPA's Report to Congress on Mercury provides an assessment of the magnitude of U.S. mercury emissions by source, the health and environmental implications of those emissions, and the availability and cost of control technologies.

  6. Mercury (Environmental Health Student Portal)

    MedlinePlus

    ... Pollutants Natural Disasters Drinking Water Waterborne Diseases & Illnesses Water Cycle Water Treatment Videos Games Experiments For Teachers Home ... Pollutants Natural Disasters Drinking Water Waterborne Diseases & Illnesses Water Cycle Water Treatment Mercury The Basics Mercury — sometimes called ...

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. The ocean planet.

    PubMed

    Hinrichsen, D

    1998-01-01

    The Blue Planet is 70% water, and all but 3% of it is salt water. Life on earth first evolved in the primordial soup of ancient seas, and though today's seas provide 99% of all living space on the planet, little is known about the world's oceans. However, the fact that the greatest threats to the integrity of our oceans come from land-based activities is becoming clear. Humankind is in the process of annihilating the coastal and ocean ecosystems and the wealth of biodiversity they harbor. Mounting population and development pressures have taken a grim toll on coastal and ocean resources. The trend arising from such growth is the chronic overexploitation of marine resources, whereby rapidly expanding coastal populations and the growth of cities have contributed to a rising tide of pollution in nearly all of the world's seas. This crisis is made worse by government inaction and a frustrating inability to enforce existing coastal and ocean management regulations. Such inability is mainly because concerned areas contain so many different types of regulations and involve so many levels of government, that rational planning and coordination of efforts are rendered impossible. Concerted efforts are needed by national governments and the international community to start preserving the ultimate source of all life on earth.

  10. 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).

  11. Four-planet meteorology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1979-01-01

    All planets with atmospheres have common characteristics which are helpful in understanding weather and climate on earth. Of the terrestrial planets, Mars displays the most earth-like characteristics. The feedback mechanism of the Martian Great Dust Storms may control climate on a global scale and shows some parallels to the water cycle on the earth. Venus, on the other hand, has atmosphere motions and characteristics far different from those of earth but appears to be valuable for comparative meteorology and it seems to be a simple weather machine due to absence of axial tilt. A completely gaseous Jupiter also can help because its atmosphere, driven by internal heat, flows round-and-round, showing the same general patterns for years at a time. Results of studying extraterrestrial atmospheres are most important for understanding earth's multi-year weather cycles such as the droughts in the American West every 22 years or effects of the Little Ice Age (1450-1915) on agriculture in the North Hemisphere.

  12. The Mercury Thermal Environment As A Design Driver and A Scientific Objective of The Bepicolombo Mission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perotto, V.; Malosti, T.; Martino, R.; Briccarello, M.; Anselmi, A.

    The thermal environment of Mercury is extremely severe and a strong design driver for any mission to the planet. The main factors are the large amount of energy both di- rectly received from the sun and reflected/re-emitted from the planet, and the variation of such energy with time. The total thermal flux received by an object in orbit or on the surface of Mercury is a combination of the above-mentioned contributions, weighted according to the orbit characteristics, or the morphology of the surface. For a lander mission, the problems are compounded by the uncertainty in the a-priori knowledge of the surface properties and morphology. The thermal design of the orbiting and land- ing elements of the BepiColombo mission has a major role in the Definition Study being carried out under ESA contract by a team led by Alenia Spazio. The project en- compasses a spacecraft in low, near-circular, polar orbit (Mercury Planetary Orbiter, MPO), a spacecraft in high-eccentricity, polar orbit (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO, provided by ISAS, Japan) and a lander (Mercury Surface Element, MSE). The approach to a feasible mission design must rely on several provisions. For the orbiting elements, the orientation of the orbit plane with respect to the line of apsides of the or- bit of Mercury is found to have a major effect on the achievable orbiter temperatures. The spacecraft configuration, and its attitude with respect to the planet and the sun, drive the accommodation of the scientific instruments. Once the optimal orientation, attitude and configuration are determined, specific thermal control solutions must be elaborated, to maintain all components including the instruments in the required tem- perature range. The objective is maximizing the scientific return under constraints such as the available on-board resources and the project budget. A major outcome of the study so far has been the specification of requirements for improved thermal con- trol technologies, which are

  13. 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

  14. NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder: The Search for (Habitable) Planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Beichman, C.

    1999-01-01

    One of the primary goals of NASA's Origins program is the search for habitable planets. I will describe how the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) will revolutionize our understanding of the origin and evolution of planetary systems, and possibly even find signs of life beyond the Earth.

  15. NASA's terrestial planet finder: the search for (habitable) planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Beichman, C. A.

    2000-01-01

    One of the primary goals of NASA's Origins program is the search for hospitable planets. I will describe how the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) will revolutionize our understanding of the origin and evolution of planetary systems, and possibly even find signs of life beyond Earth.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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...

  19. 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)

  20. 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.

  1. Topics in Extrasolar Planet Characterization

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Howe, Alex Ryan

    I present four papers exploring different topics in the area of characterizing the atmospheric and bulk properties of extrasolar planets. In these papers, I present two new codes, in various forms, for modeling these objects. A code to generate theoretical models of transit spectra of exoplanets is featured in the first paper and is refined and expanded into the APOLLO code for spectral modeling and parameter retrieval in the fourth paper. Another code to model the internal structure and evolution of planets is featured in the second and third papers. The first paper presents transit spectra models of GJ 1214b and other super-Earth and mini-Neptune type planets--planets with a "solid", terrestrial composition and relatively small planets with a thick hydrogen-helium atmosphere, respectively--and fit them to observational data to estimate the atmospheric compositions and cloud properties of these planets. The second paper presents structural models of super-Earth and mini-Neptune type planets and estimates their bulk compositions from mass and radius estimates. The third paper refines these models with evolutionary calculations of thermal contraction and ultraviolet-driven mass loss. Here, we estimate the boundaries of the parameter space in which planets lose their initial hydrogen-helium atmospheres completely, and we also present formation and evolution scenarios for the planets in the Kepler-11 system. The fourth paper uses more refined transit spectra models, this time for hot jupiter type planets, to explore the methods to design optimal observing programs for the James Webb Space Telescope to quantitatively measure the atmospheric compositions and other properties of these planets.

  2. Mercury's magnetosphere: another look

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Engle, Irene M.

    1997-01-01

    The measurements made of Mercury's magnetic field during the Mercury I flyby and the Mereury III flyby have been incorporated into models of the Hermean magnetosphere-magnetotail system. When the magnetic field data for the first half of the Mereury I flyby and all of the Mercury III flyby were incorporated into a single fit of a scaled version of the Beard ( J. Geophys. Res.84, 2118-2122, 1979) Earth magnetosphere-magnetotail system, a r.m.s. deviation of 9.3 nT for the magnetic field vector was obtained (Bergan and Engle, J. Geophys. Res.86, 1617-1620, 1981). This paper presents results of a study that employs an adaptation of that Beard model but also adopts the assumption that the incident solar wind pressure was different at the times of the two Mercury magnetosphere encounters. Resulting different stand-off distances and scaling factors for the data of the two respective flybys result directly from that single assumption. The study yields a comparable fit of reduced r.m.s. deviation of 7.1 nT and a strength of the Mercury planetary dipole moment D (before any displacement effects are incorporated) between 154 nT RM3 (Merc 1) and 182 nT RM3 (Merc 3). The corresponding standoff distances are 1.31 RM for the Merc 3 encounter and 1.08 RM for the Merc 1 encounter.

  3. Libration and obliquity of Mercury from the BepiColombo radio science and camera experiments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pfyffer, G.; van Hoolst, T.; Dehant, V.

    2008-12-01

    Mercury is the most enigmatic among the terrestrial planets, but the space missions MESSENGER and BepiColombo are expected to advance largely our knowledge of the structure, formation, and evolution of Mercury. In particular, insight into Mercury's deep interior will be obtained from observations of the 88-day forced libration, the obliquity and the degree-two coefficients of the gravity field of Mercury. Of those quantities, the libration is the most difficult to measure and will hence be a limiting factor We report here on aspects of the observational strategy to determine the libration amplitude and obliquity, taking into account the space and ground segment of the experiment. Repeated photographic measurements of selected target positions on the surface of Mercury are central to the strategy to determine the obliquity and libration in the frame of the BepiColombo mission. We simulated these measurements in order to estimate the accuracy of the reconstruction of the orientation and rotational motion of the planet, as a function of the amount of measurements made, the number of different targets considered and their locations on the surface of the planet. From this study, we determine criteria for the distribution and number of target positions to maximize the accuracy on the orientation and rotation determination, from which the obliquity and libration are extracted. We take into account the errors arising from the relative positions of the spacecraft, Mercury and the Earth. We consider various error sources such as the solar thermal influence on the spacecraft bus and the Earth based tracking constraint near solar conjunctions of Mercury. The accuracy on the retrieved parameters is then interpreted in terms of accuracy on the constraints on the interior structure of the planet. Our simulations show that the achievable level of accuracy on the libration amplitude and obliquity will be sufficient to constrain Mercury interior structure models, if the orbiter

  4. 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

  5. Constraining the Mean Crustal Thickness on Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Nimmo, F.

    2001-01-01

    The topography of Mercury is poorly known, with only limited radar and stereo coverage available. However, radar profiles reveal topographic contrasts of several kilometers over wavelengths of approximately 1000 km. The bulk of Mercury's geologic activity took place within the first 1 Ga of the planet's history), and it is therefore likely that these topographic features derive from this period. On Earth, long wavelength topographic features are supported either convectively, or through some combination of isostasy and flexure. Photographic images show no evidence for plume-like features, nor for plate tectonics; I therefore assume that neither convective support nor Pratt isostasy are operating. The composition and structure of the crust of Mercury are almost unknown. The reflectance spectrum of the surface of Mercury is similar to that of the lunar highlands, which are predominantly plagioclase. Anderson et al. used the observed center-of-mass center-of-figure offset together with an assumption of Airy isostasy to infer a crustal thickness of 100-300 km. Based on tidal despinning arguments, the early elastic thickness (T(sub e)) of the (unfractured) lithosphere was approximately equal to or less than 100 km. Thrust faults with lengths of up to 500 km and ages of about 4 Ga B.P. are known to exist on Mercury. Assuming a semicircular slip distribution and a typical thrust fault angle of 10 degrees, the likely vertical depth to the base of these faults is about 45 km. More sophisticated modelling gives similar or slightly smaller answers. The depth to the base of faulting and the elastic layer are usually similar on Earth, and both are thought to be thermally controlled. Assuming that the characteristic temperature is about 750 K, the observed fault depth implies that the heat flux at 4 Ga B.P. is unlikely to be less than 20 mW m(exp -2) for a linear temperature gradient. For an elastic thickness of 45 km, topography at 1000 km wavelength is likely to be about 60

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Migration of accreting giant planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Crida, A.; Bitsch, B.; Raibaldi, A.

    2016-12-01

    We present the results of 2D hydro simulations of giant planets in proto-planetary discs, which accrete gas at a more or less high rate. First, starting from a solid core of 20 Earth masses, we show that as soon as the runaway accretion of gas turns on, the planet is saved from type I migration : the gap opening mass is reached before the planet is lost into its host star. Furthermore, gas accretion helps opening the gap in low mass discs. Consequently, if the accretion rate is limited to the disc supply, then the planet is already inside a gap and in type II migration. We further show that the type II migration of a Jupiter mass planet actually depends on its accretion rate. Only when the accretion is high do we retrieve the classical picture where no gas crosses the gap and the planet follows the disc spreading. These results impact our understanding of planet migration and planet population synthesis models. The e-poster presenting these results in French can be found here: L'e-poster présentant ces résultats en français est disponible à cette adresse: http://sf2a.eu/semaine-sf2a/2016/posterpdfs/156_179_49.pdf.

  10. 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.

  11. 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)

  12. THREE PLANETS ORBITING WOLF 1061

    SciTech Connect

    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{sub ⊕} minimum-mass planet with an orbital period P = 4.888 days (Wolf 1061b), a 4.25 M{sub ⊕} minimum-mass planet with orbital period P = 17.867 days (Wolf 1061c), and a likely 5.21 M{sub ⊕} 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 and 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.

  13. Enhanced mercury oxidation

    SciTech Connect

    Gretta, W.J.; Wu, S.; Kikkawa, H.

    2009-06-15

    A new catalyst offers a new way to enhance mercury control from bituminous coal-fired power plants. Hitachi has developed an SCR catalyst which satisfies high Hg{sup 0} oxidation and low SO{sub 2} oxidation requirements under high temperatures (716 to 770 F). This triple action catalysts, TRAC can significantly enhance mercury oxidation and reduce or eliminate the need for additional mercury control measures such as activated carbon injection. After laboratory testing, pilot-scale tests confirmed an activity of 1.4-1.7 times higher than that of conventional SCR catalyst. The new catalyst has been successfully applied in a commercial PRB-fired boiler without the need for halogens to be added to the fuel feed or flue gas. 2 figs.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Clues for genesis of magnetic field structure of Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hiremath, K. M.

    2012-07-01

    Recent space observations suggest that Mercury inherits a weak and predominantly large-scale steady dipole like magnetic field structure. Present popular paradigm is to invoke most promising geodynamo like phenomenon that requires the main ingredients such as either a full or partial convection of the interior and fast rotation such that magnetic (Lorentz) and Coriolis forces are of similar order of magnitudes. Hence, the ratio of Lorentz to Coriolis force, called the Elsasser number Λ, must be order of unity. Contrary to the expectation, Mercury rotates so slow that Elsasser number turns out to be << 1. There are also other alternative models to explain genesis of magnetic field structure of Mercury. With the observed constraint of Mercury's atmospheric magnetic field structure, internal magnetic field structure is obtained as a solution of magnetic 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. Magnetic diffusion time scales are estimated to be ˜ billion years suggesting that present day magnetic field structure might be of primordial origin. In order to reconcile with the experimental fact that, as temperature of Mercury's iron core is above Curie temperature and primordial magnetic field structure must be non-existent, it is proposed that permanency of such a large-scale magnetic field structure of the planet is attained during Mercury's early evolutionary history of heavy bombardments by the asteroids and comets leaving their imprints as craters on this planet. That means the solar system bodies that have heavy bombardments with high density craters during the early epochs of such catastrophic events should have strong magnetic field structures. Is this hypothesis universal? Can this hypothesis gives some clues regarding presence or absence of magnetic field structure of

  17. 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

  18. Binary Minor Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Richardson, Derek C.; Walsh, Kevin J.

    2006-05-01

    A review of observations and theories regarding binary asteroids and binary trans-Neptunian objects [collectively, binary minor planets (BMPs)] is presented. To date, these objects have been discovered using a combination of direct imaging, lightcurve analysis, and radar. They are found throughout the Solar System, and present a challenge for theorists modeling their formation in the context of Solar System evolution. The most promising models invoke rotational disruption for the smallest, shortest-lived objects (the asteroids nearest to Earth), consistent with the observed fast rotation of these bodies; impacts for the larger, longer-lived asteroids in the main belt, consistent with the range of size ratios of their components and slower rotation rates; and mutual capture for the distant, icy, trans-Neptunian objects, consistent with their large component separations and near-equal sizes. Numerical simulations have successfully reproduced key features of the binaries in the first two categories; the third remains to be investigated in detail.

  19. Mission to planet earth

    SciTech Connect

    Baker, D.J.

    1988-07-01

    Plans for environmental monitoring using remote-sensing satellites in the era of the International Space Station are reviewed. The role of international cooperation is stressed, considering the present Landsat, SPOT, and Marine Observation Satellite programs; ERS-1 and Topex/Poseidon; and plans for the Italian Lageos-2, the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, and the Japanese Advanced Earth Observation Satellite. The NASA Mission to Planet Earth proposal calls for four polar-orbit and five GEO platforms (five NASA, two ESA, and two NASDA), to be in place by the year 2000, as well as dedicated spacecraft of the Earth System Explorer series in the 1990s. Payloads will monitor the geomagnetic field, atmospheric temperature and water vapor, O3 and aerosols, outgoing radiation, precipitation, sea-surface temperature, sea ice, ocean chlorophyll, surface winds, wave height, ocean circulation, snow cover, land use, vegetation, crops, volcanic activity, and the hydrologic cycle.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Atmospheres of Extrasolar Giant Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Marley, M. S.; Fortney, J.; Seager, S.; Barman, T.

    The key to understanding an extrasolar giant planet's spectrum - and hence its detectability and evolution - lies with its atmosphere. Now that direct observations of thermal emission from extrasolar giant planets (EGPs) are in hand, atmosphere models can be used to constrain atmospheric composition, thermal structure, and ultimately the formation and evolution of detected planets. We review the important physical processes that influence the atmospheric structure and evolution of EGPs and consider what has already been learned from the first generation of observations and modeling. We pay particular attention to the roles of cloud structure, metallicity, and atmospheric chemistry in affecting detectable properties through Spitzer Space Telescope observations of the transiting giant planets. Our review stresses the uncertainties that ultimately limit our ability to interpret EGP observations. Finally we will conclude with a look to the future as characterization of multiple individual planets in a single stellar system leads to the study of comparative planetary architectures.

  3. Observational Constraints on Planet Nine

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Payne, Matthew John; Holman, Matthew J.

    2016-10-01

    Recent publications from Batygin & Brown have rekindled interest in the possibility that there is a large (~10 Earth-Mass) planet lurking unseen in a distant (a~500 AU) orbit at the edge of the Solar System. Such a massive planet would tidally distort the orbits of the other planets in the Solar System.These distortions can potentially be measured and/or constrained through precise observations of the orbits of the outer planets and distant trans-Neptunian objects. I will discuss our recent (and ongoing) attempts to observationally constrain the possible location of Planet Nine via (a) measurements of the orbit of Pluto, and (b) measurements of the orbit of Saturn derived from the Cassini spacecraft.

  4. Why are Pulsar Planets Rare?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martin, Rebecca G.; Livio, Mario; Palaniswamy, Divya

    2016-12-01

    Pulsar timing observations have revealed planets around only a few pulsars. We suggest that the rarity of these planets is due mainly to two effects. First, we show that the most likely formation mechanism requires the destruction of a companion star. Only pulsars with a suitable companion (with an extreme mass ratio) are able to form planets. Second, while a dead zone (a region of low turbulence) in the disk is generally thought to be essential for planet formation, it is most probably rare in disks around pulsars, because of the irradiation from the pulsar. The irradiation strongly heats the inner parts of the disk, thus pushing the inner boundary of the dead zone out. We suggest that the rarity of pulsar planets can be explained by the low probability for these two requirements to be satisfied: a very low-mass companion and a dead zone.

  5. Formation of Planets around Pulsars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Banit, M.; Ruderman, M. A.; Shaham, J.; Applegate, J. H.

    1993-10-01

    Pulse arrival-time delays PSR 1257+ 12 suggest the existence of at least two planets in nearly circular orbits around it. In this paper we discuss different scenarios for the formation of planets in circular orbits around pulsars. Among other topics, we look in some detail at wind emission mechanisms that are particularly relevant to the process of evaporation of planets around pulsars and discuss their possible role in orbit circularization. We conclude that the formation of such planets may occur in a very late phase of low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) or binary millisecond pulsar (BMP) evolution. Evaporation of the companion star in these phases supplies matter to a circumbinary "excretion" disk in which the physical conditions, similar to those appropriate for the BMP 1957+20 system, may allow the formation of planets like those observed in PSR 1257+12.

  6. Highly inclined and eccentric massive planets. II. Planet-planet interactions during the disc phase

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sotiriadis, Sotiris; Libert, Anne-Sophie; Bitsch, Bertram; Crida, Aurélien

    2017-02-01

    Context. Observational evidence indicates that the orbits of extrasolar planets are more various than the circular and coplanar ones of the solar system. Planet-planet interactions during migration in the protoplanetary disc have been invoked to explain the formation of these eccentric and inclined orbits. However, our companion paper (Paper I) on the planet-disc interactions of highly inclined and eccentric massive planets has shown that the damping induced by the disc is significant for a massive planet, leading the planet back to the midplane with its eccentricity possibly increasing over time. Aims: We aim to investigate the influence of the eccentricity and inclination damping due to planet-disc interactions on the final configurations of the systems, generalizing previous studies on the combined action of the gas disc and planet-planet scattering during the disc phase. Methods: Instead of the simplistic K-prescription, our N-body simulations adopt the damping formulae for eccentricity and inclination provided by the hydrodynamical simulations of our companion paper. We follow the orbital evolution of 11 000 numerical experiments of three giant planets in the late stage of the gas disc, exploring different initial configurations, planetary mass ratios and disc masses. Results: The dynamical evolutions of the planetary systems are studied along the simulations, with a particular emphasis on the resonance captures and inclination-growth mechanisms. Most of the systems are found with small inclinations (≤ 10°) at the dispersal of the disc. Even though many systems enter an inclination-type resonance during the migration, the disc usually damps the inclinations on a short timescale. Although the majority of the multiple systems in our simulations are quasi-coplanar, 5% of them end up with high mutual inclinations (≥ 10°). Half of these highly mutually inclined systems result from two- or three-body mean-motion resonance captures, the other half being

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Recent tectonic activity on Mercury revealed by small thrust fault scarps

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Watters, Thomas R.; Daud, Katie; Banks, Maria E.; Selvans, Michelle M.; Chapman, Clark R.; Ernst, Carolyn M.

    2016-10-01

    Large tectonic landforms on the surface of Mercury, consistent with significant contraction of the planet, were revealed by the flybys of Mariner 10 in the mid-1970s. The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission confirmed that the planet's past 4 billion years of tectonic history have been dominated by contraction expressed by lobate fault scarps that are hundreds of kilometres long. Here we report the discovery of small thrust fault scarps in images from the low-altitude campaign at the end of the MESSENGER mission that are orders of magnitude smaller than the large-scale lobate scarps. These small scarps have tens of metres of relief, are only kilometres in length and are comparable in scale to small young scarps on the Moon. Their small-scale, pristine appearance, crosscutting of impact craters and association with small graben all indicate an age of less than 50 Myr. We propose that these scarps are the smallest members of a continuum in scale of thrust fault scarps on Mercury. The young age of the small scarps, along with evidence for recent activity on large-scale scarps, suggests that Mercury is tectonically active today and implies a prolonged slow cooling of the planet's interior.

  10. Mercury poisoning: a diagnostic challenge.

    PubMed

    Tezer, Hasan; Kaya, Aysenur; Kalkan, Gokhan; Erkocoglu, Mustafa; Ozturk, Kubra; Buyuktasli, Muge

    2012-11-01

    Clinical features of mercury poisoning are nonspecific, and a detailed history is very valuable. The silvery, shiny appearance of mercury makes it very exciting and attractive for children. The overall half-life of elemental mercury in the body averages approximately 2 months. Chelation therapy with dimercaptosuccinic acid is the treatment of choice if the urine or blood level of mercury is high or the symptoms are profound. Here, we describe a 14-year-old boy with fever, respiratory distress, and body rash. Investigation leading to a diagnosis of mercury poisoning was made only after his mother presented with the similar symptoms a few days later.

  11. Which Ringed Planet...!?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2002-12-01

    Don't worry - you are not the only one who thought this was a nice amateur photo of planet Saturn, Lord of the Rings in our Solar System! But then the relative brightness and positions of the moons may appear somewhat unfamiliar... and the ring system does look unusually bright when compared to the planetary disk...?? Well, it is not Saturn, but Uranus , the next giant planet further out, located at a distance of about 3,000 million km, or 20 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The photo shows Uranus surrounded by its rings and some of the moons, as they appear on a near-infrared image that was obtained in the K s -band (at wavelength 2.2 µm) with the ISAAC multi-mode instrument on the 8.2-m VLT ANTU telescope at the ESO Paranal Observatory (Chile) . The exposure was made on November 19, 2002 (03:00 hrs UT) during a planetary research programme. The observing conditions were excellent (seeing 0.5 arcsec) and the exposure lasted 5 min. The angular diameter of Uranus is about 3.5 arcsec. The observers at ISAAC were Emmanuel Lellouch and Thérése Encrenaz of the Observatoire de Paris (France) and Jean-Gabriel Cuby and Andreas Jaunsen (both ESO-Chile). The rings The rings of Uranus were discovered in 1977, from observations during a stellar occultation event by astronomer teams at the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) and the Perth Observatory (Australia). Just before and after the planet moved in front of the (occulted) star, the surrounding rings caused the starlight to dim for short intervals of time. Photos obtained from the Voyager-2 spacecraft in 1986 showed a multitude of very tenuous rings. These rings are almost undetectable from the Earth in visible light. However, on the present VLT near-infrared picture, the contrast between the rings and the planet is strongly enhanced. At the particular wavelength at which this observation was made, the infalling sunlight is almost completely absorbed by gaseous methane present in the planetary atmosphere

  12. MESSENGER observations of magnetopause structure at Mercury

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    DiBraccio, G. A.; Slavin, J. A.; Boardsen, S. A.; Anderson, B. J.; Korth, H.; Zurbuchen, T.; Raines, J. M.; McNutt, R. L.; Solomon, S. C.

    2011-12-01

    On 18 March 2011, MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, providing a new opportunity to study the outer boundary of the innermost planet's magnetosphere - the magnetopause. The 12-hour orbital period yields a minimum of four magnetopause crossings per day, which facilitates the investigation of the effect of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on the magnetopause structure. Here we use data from MESSENGER's Magnetometer (MAG) and Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) to characterize the magnetopause. A minimum variance analysis (MVA) is executed to transform the MAG data into current-sheet coordinates. In this new coordinate system we determine (1) the temporal duration and, with assumptions, the thickness of the magnetopause, (2) the magnetic shear angle across the boundary, and (3) the normal magnetic field across the current sheet, from which we infer the rate of reconnection. FIPS measurements provide a validation of the structure of the magnetopause determined from the MAG data, i.e., whether the magnetopause is magnetically open or closed, on the basis of its permeability to solar wind ions. The results of our analysis indicate that the structure of Mercury's magnetopause is highly responsive to IMF direction and, whenever the shear angle is greater than 90°, is generally open to the solar wind plasma under normal magnetic field components of order 1-10 nT.

  13. Some aspects of core formation in Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    1976-01-01

    Some questions dealing with the nature and history of a large metallic core within Mercury are considered. These include the existence of a core, its size, whether it is fluid or solid, the timescale for core formation, the geological consequences of core formation, and whether such consequences are consistent with the surface geology. Several indirect lines of evidence are discussed which suggest the presence of a large iron-rich core. A core-formation model is examined in which core infall is accompanied by an increase of 17 km in planetary radius, an increase of 700 K in mean internal temperature, and substantial melting of the mantle. It is argued that if the core differentiated from an originally homogeneous planet, that event must have predated the oldest geological units comprising most of the planetary surface. A convective dynamo model for the source of Mercury's magnetic field is shown to conflict with cosmochemical models that do not predict a substantial radiogenic heat source in the core.

  14. 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.

  15. The Chemistry of Planet Formation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oberg, Karin I.

    2017-01-01

    Exo-planets are common, and they span a large range of compositions. The origins of the observed diversity of planetary compositions is largely unconstrained, but must be linked to the planet formation physics and chemistry. Among planets that are Earth-like, a second question is how often such planets form hospitable to life. A fraction of exo-planets are observed to be ‘physically habitable’, i.e. of the right temperature and bulk composition to sustain a water-based prebiotic chemistry, but this does not automatically imply that they are rich in the building blocks of life, in organic molecules of different sizes and kinds, i.e. that they are chemically habitable. In this talk I will argue that characterizing the chemistry of protoplanetary disks, the formation sites of planets, is key to address both the origins of planetary bulk compositions and the likelihood of finding organic matter on planets. The most direct path to constrain the chemistry in disks is to directly observe it. In the age of ALMA it is for the first time possible to image the chemistry of planet formation, to determine locations of disk snowlines, and to map the distributions of different organic molecules. Recent ALMA highlights include constraints on CO snowline locations, the discovery of spectacular chemical ring systems, and first detections of more complex organic molecules. Observations can only provide chemical snapshots, however, and even ALMA is blind to the majority of the chemistry that shapes planet formation. To interpret observations and address the full chemical complexity in disks requires models, both toy models and astrochemical simulations. These models in turn must be informed by laboratory experiments, some of which will be shown in this talk. It is thus only when we combine observational, theoretical and experimental constraints that we can hope to characterize the chemistry of disks, and further, the chemical compositions of nascent planets.

  16. Planet Classification: A Historical Perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weintraub, David A.

    2009-05-01

    As philosopher George Santayana famously said, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The professional astronomy community, as embodied in the IAU, now suffers from Santayana's malady. Ceres was expelled from the community of planets because it apparently was not a planet; yet, no working, scientifically reasonable definition of the word planet existed in the early nineteenth century and so no rational basis existed for excluding or including Ceres or, for that matter, Uranus or the soon-to-be-discovered Neptune from the family of planets. Instead, William Herschel disparaged Ceres as only an "asteroid," a term he invented specifically to separate Ceres and Pallas and Vesta from the true planets. Clearly, in Herschel's view, Ceres was not big enough, and apparently, to Herschel, size mattered. So how big is big enough and by what method was size put in place as the critical scientific metric for assessing planethood? Certainly, as members of the newly discovered asteroid belt, the newly identified asteroids were members of a previously unknown family of objects in the solar system. But why did that make these non-classically known objects asteroids but not planets rather than asteroids and planets? Uranus and Neptune were also members of a newly identified and previously unknown family of solar system objects that we now call "ice giants." On what basis were these two objects embraced as planets and why have these two non-classical objects become known as ice giants and planets rather than ice giants but not planets? Perhaps our scientific predecessors were too quick to render judgment, as they lacked the scientific context in which to understand the many new objects discovered during the years 1781 to 1846. Is that a lesson from the past that we might remember today?

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. Mercury Sample Return using Solar Sails

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Young, Roy; Montgomery, E.; Adams, C.

    2006-12-01

    Over the previous three years NASA’s In-Space Propulsion Technology (ISPT) Program has matured solar sail technology from laboratory components to full systems, demonstrated in as relevant a space environment as could be simulated on the ground. Solar sail propulsion uses sunlight to propel vehicles through space by reflecting solar photons from a large sails made of a lightweight, reflective material. With photonic pressure providing continuous thrust, sailcraft can conduct missions not available with conventional propulsion: • high-inclination plane changes • flyby or rendezvous missions to outer solar system objects • non-Keplarian orbits (e.g. above the pole of a planet) • hovering indefinitely near a Lagrange point in space To illustrate the capabilities of solar sails, the results of an European Space Agency Mercury Sample Return study using solar sails is described and compared with a mission using conventional propulsion. A conventional Mercury sample return mission requires significant launch mass due to the large Δv required for the outbound and return trips, and the large mass of a planetary lander and ascent vehicle. Solar sailing can reduce mass by delivering the lander to a low, orbit close to the terminator and providing the Δv for the return flight. The mission concept calls for a 275 m sail to deliver a lander, cruise stage and science payload to a Sun-synchronous orbit at Mercury in 2.85 years. The lander acquires samples, and conducts limited surface exploration. An ascent vehicle delivers a small vehicle containing the samples for transfer to the solar sail. The solar sail then spirals back to Earth in 1 year. Solar sailing reduces launch mass by 60% and trip time by 40%, relative to conventional mission concepts. Results of technology development activities sponsored by the ISPT Program will be provided to demonstrate the level of technology readiness for such missions.

  20. 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.