Mercury turned out to be tectonically active

Mercury turned out to be tectonically active
Mercury turned out to be tectonically active

A group of American astrogeologists found that Mercury remained tectonic for longer than expected. The research results are published in Nature Geoscience.


The geological history of Mercury is based on the study of the relative age of its relief. According to modern concepts, the tectonic activity of the planet could have ceased in the Kalor or Tolstoy periods - 3, 8-4 billion years ago. This was accompanied by cracking of the outer rocky crust of Mercury with the formation of a kind of "scales" and subsequent cooling of the liquid iron-nickel core.

The new work is based on the analysis of images taken by the Messenger probe. In particular, 18 months before the crash, scientists lowered the probe's orbit, which made it possible to obtain more detailed photographs of the surface. The results showed that, in addition to large - several kilometers high - the landscape of Mercury contains small - several hundred meters long. The latter are located in small young craters.

As the authors note, the presence of such ledges may indicate that the tectonic activity of the planet stopped no earlier than 50 million years ago. It is possible that the geological processes on Mercury are continuing at the present time. To test the hypothesis, the researchers intend to use data from the European probe BepiColombo, which is scheduled to launch in April 2018.

The Messenger probe was launched by NASA in 2004 and became the first spacecraft to travel to Mercury after the Mariner 10 probe. With the help of the mission, astrophysicists were able to find out that the center of the planet's magnetic field is shifted towards the north. In addition, Messenger has proven the possibility of frozen water in the craters of Mercury. In April 2015, the probe crashed on the planet's surface due to the depletion of fuel reserves.

Popular by topic