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Unlocking Mercury's secrets - Dr Stuart Clark

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New Scientist issue 2637

I have the cover story of New Scientist’s first issue of the year.


“OF ALL the planets in our solar system, Mercury is an enigma. The chimeric planet has a face like the moon, yet conceals a metal heart larger than that of Mars; while all of the major planets go around the sun in more or less the same plane, Mercury opts for a jaunty angle; while Earth's orbit is essentially round, Mercury prefers an ellipse; and let's not forget the magnetic field that it shouldn't have. Clearly, the closest planet to the sun is trying to tell us something.

 


It even had a famous fan: Albert Einstein. Mercury's odd motion around the sun was impossible to explain with Newton's theory of gravitation alone. The puzzle remained until Einstein used it as the first convincing evidence for his general theory of relativity.
Now astronomers think it holds another secret: how the solar system itself was formed. Ralph McNutt, a planetary scientist at ...”

 

The complete article is 2762 words long and is available here.
(a subscription is required).

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