Published in Chemistry World, 30 Sep 2011
Nasa’s Messenger spacecraft is bringing new understanding to the question of how Mercury formed. The new information looks set to rewrite theories about the birth of the solar system’s smallest planet.
Many scientists consider Mercury – with its high density composition, heavily cratered surface and magnetic field – to be the most unusual planet. It is the smallest of the other three rocky planets – Mars, Venus and Earth – yet it has a massive iron core and only a thin mantle. Scientists had thought these unusual features might have been remnants of a particularly violent formation. [...]
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