We have some news for those of you interested in our Solar System. Geophysical Research Letters journal reported that the most volcanic activity on Mercury most likely ended 3.5 billion years ago. This discovery could help the researchers to find out more about the geological evolution of the planet.
Paul Byrne, a planetary geologist and NC State assistant professor explained that there could be two types of volcanic activity on a planet: explosive or effusive. The explosive on is very violent. The Mount Saint Helen’s eruption can be a great example for this. The effusive one refers to widespread lava that flows slowly over a landscape. This type of volcanism is believed to be responsible for a planet’s crust formation.
The team used the data from NASA to determine when the effusive volcanic activity ended on Mercury. Photographs of Mercury’s surface are the only evidence scientists can use as they are not able to get physical samples from other planets, especially those who are too far from us. By using those photos and size-frequency analysis, number and size of craters were placed into mathematical models. That is how they could calculate absolute ages for effusive volcanic deposits on Mercury.
The scientists said there were major geological differences between Earth, Mars, and Mercury. Because of its position, near to the Sun, Mercury began to contract and the crust sealed off any conduits that magma could use to reach the surface.
In case you did not know, Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System. Its orbital period is about 88 Earth days which is the less than the other planets our Solar System has. Moreover, it seems that it has no natural satellites. The planet was named after Mercury, the messenger of the gods.
If you want to see Mercury from our planet, you can do this in the morning or the evening. Unfortunately, we can’t see it very well because it is too close to the Sun. There were two spacecraft that visited Mercury and took photos in order to help the scientists find out more about this planet. We will see if the researchers will find out more about the volcanic activity of Mercury and what other mysteries this planet has.
Image source: Wikipedia