Peter James (Baylor U)
NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft was the first craft to orbit Mercury, our solar system’s innermost planet. The MESSENGER mission team consisted of scientists from around the globe—including some from CWRU—and the data returned by MESSENGER revealed a planet unlike any other in our solar system. Mercury’s metal core is approximately 80% of the diameter of the planet, so Mercury is a type of a predominantly metal world that be orbiting around other stars. Mercury has a history of pervasive volcanic eruptions (no longer active) with distinct geochemical terranes, and its surface features some some broad topographic undulations that are still unexplained. This talk will highlight some of the significant discoveries resulting from the MESSENGER mission, with a special focus on the use of gravity anomalies to study Mercury’s crust.