The speed with which Mercury is "compressed" turns out to be 2-8 times higher than the indicators indicated by computer models of the first planet of the solar system and previous measurements.
Using data obtained from the Messenger interplanetary probe, Paul Byrne of the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington (USA) and his colleagues calculated the speed with which Mercury is "compressed" and found that it is 2-8 times higher than which indicated computer models of the first planet of the solar system and previous measurements.
At the end of 19? At the beginning of the 20th century, theories that the core, bowels and crust of the Earth gradually lose their heat and shrink were very popular among scientists. Before the discovery of tectonic processes and the development of tectonics as an independent scientific theory, this compression was considered the cause of earthquakes and volcanism. Such processes, despite the inapplicability of the theory of "compression" to the Earth, nevertheless, occur or have occurred on other bodies of the solar system - on the ancient Moon and on modern Mercury.
As part of the study, experts, having analyzed the data obtained by the Messenger probe since its arrival in the orbit of Mercury in 2011, found that the compression rate of Mercury is significantly different from the expected one.
Messenger is an American automatic interplanetary station (AMS) for the study of Mercury. Launched on August 3, 2004 from the US Air Force Station at Cape Canaveral using the Delta 7925H-9.5 launch vehicle. On March 18, 2011 at 01:10 UTC, the station safely entered the orbit of Mercury. Before the "Messenger" it was visited by only one device - "Mariner-10", which flew 3 times near the planet in 1974-1975
The authors of the study, interested in special structures - "lobular slopes", presumably resulting from the cooling and contraction of the planet's interior, used the complete topographic map of the surface of Mercury, which was presented in March last year.
As a result of analyzing the shape of these structures, their location and depth, experts have established that the radius of Mercury over the past 4 billion years has decreased not by 0.8-3 km, as was believed, but by 5-7 km. Thus, it turned out that Mercury is "compressed" 2-8 times faster than the measurements of "Mariner-10" and computer models based on the data collected by it indicated. Due to what this accelerated compression occurs, scientists do not yet know.