New Views of Mercury from Messenger

Catherine Johnson (UBC Earth and ocean Sciences
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2012-01-09 16:00 - 17:00
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
On March 18, 2011 MESSENGER became the first spacecraft ever to orbit our Solar System’s innermost planet. The MESSENGER orbit is highly elliptical with a minimum (periapse) altitude of 200km at a latitude of about 60°N, an orbital period of 12 hours and an apoapse altitude of 15,300 km. Since orbit insertion, MESSENGER has collected data comprising more than 3 Mercury years, 1.5 solar days, and 4 coverages in body-fixed geographical coordinates. Major findings and puzzles to date include (1) constraints on surface composition from imaging and compositional data and their implications for models for Mercury’s formation, (2) surface and interior geophysical structure from altimetry, gravity and magnetic data, and (3) the major structure and dynamics of the magnetosphere and Mercury’s tenuous exosphere.
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