Presented at: A press conference
held at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, The Woodlands, Texas, USA. In total, MESSENGER team members are presenting 57 papers
at this conference.
This graphic shows a comparison of the internal structures of Earth and Mercury as currently understood based on the latest data from the MESSENGER mission. Mercury's interior has a larger ratio of metallic core material to silicate rock material than the Earth. Mercury also appears to have a solid layer of iron sulfide that lies at the top of the core. The presence of this solid layer places important constraints on the temperatures within Mercury's interior and may influence the generation of the planet°s magnetic field. The inset shows a comparison of the relative radial sizes of the Earth and Mercury.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury?
section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER°s science goals.
Credit: Case Western Reserve University
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.