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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Mercury Reveals Some Surprises
16 June 2011 3:27 pm
The solar system’s innermost planet may look like a dead ringer for Earth’s moon, but the scientists getting the closest look ever at Mercury want you to know one thing: Mercury is not the moon. And it isn’t anything like the other rocky planets—Earth, Mars, or Venus—either. At a NASA press conference today, researchers reporting on the first three months that the MESSENGER spacecraft has been orbiting the sun’s closest neighbor emphasized many distinctive mercurian aspects. Perhaps the most fundamental is an abundance of elements that can be easily boiled out of hot rock. Team members have been gauging rock composition by measuring the x-rays and gamma-rays emitted by a surface bombarded by the sun’s x-rays and by cosmic rays. The latest analyses show ten times more sulfur than found in Earth’s or the moon’s surface rocks and as much or more potassium. That rules out some previously proposed ways of forming Mercury with its relatively huge molten iron core, such as having the nascent sun blasting away the outer rind of an Earthlike planet. Still in the running is a huge impact that blew away an outer layer of Mercury. With all systems go, MESSENGER has 9 months left in its planned mission.
See more ScienceShots.