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Exploring Mercury: The Iron Planet

Stevenson, David J. (2004) Exploring Mercury: The Iron Planet. Eos, 85 (19). p. 192. ISSN 0096-3941. doi:10.1029/2004EO190011.

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Planet Mercury is both difficult to observe and difficult to reach by spacecraft. Just one spacecraft, Mariner 10, flew by the planet 30 years ago. An upcoming NASA mission, MESSENGER, will be launched this year and will go into orbit around Mercury at the end of this decade. A European mission is planned for the following decade. It's worth going there because Mercury is a strange body and the history of planetary exploration has taught us that strangeness gives us insight into planetary origin and evolution. Mercury is intrinsically the densest of the planets and it must be iron-rich. Perhaps not coincidentally it has a significant magnetic field, which may mean that it can generate a field, much as Earth generates a field. Yet Mercury is small; it has an old, heavily cratered surface, and very little atmosphere. It also has unusual spectroscopic and radar characteristics. We understand it far less well than any other planet inward of Uranus.

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Stevenson, David J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 2004 American Geophysical Union.
Issue or Number:19
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130702-130747283
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Official Citation:Stevenson, D. J. (2004), Exploring Mercury: The Iron Planet, Eos Trans. AGU, 85(19), 192–192, doi:10.1029/2004EO190011
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39187
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:03 Jul 2013 18:09
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:43

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