Scientists overestimate the thickness of Mercury's crust

Scientists overestimate the thickness of Mercury's crust
Scientists overestimate the thickness of Mercury's crust
Anonim

New calculations have reduced the depth of the solid Mercurian crust to 25 kilometers.

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Tiny Mercury moves so fast and close to the Sun that, despite its relative proximity, it remains one of the least studied planets in the solar system. Only one single probe - the American MESSENGER - spent enough time near it and studied the landscape and the composition of its surface. But what lies beneath it?

The first data from MESSENGER showed that the planet's crust is a respectable 35 kilometers deep. However, a new analysis by Michael Sori of the University of Arizona shows that this is a gross exaggeration. In a forthcoming article in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, he concludes that Mercury's crust is about 10 kilometers thinner.

Sori used MESSENGER observational data and a new planetary model by Isamu Matsuyama and Douglas Hemingway in his calculations. His estimate largely supports the volcanic origin of Mercury's crust - and the anomalous size of its core, which accounts for about 60 percent of the planet's volume. This is more than any other rocky planet in the solar system. For comparison, the Earth's core is only about 15 percent of its volume.

Mercury may have formed quite "normal", but over the years of proximity to the Sun, significant amounts of matter were carried away from its surface. Sori estimates that about 11 percent of the molten magma on the planet's surface solidified into crust, which was subsequently replenished by volcanic processes.

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