Friday, May 01, 2009

Mercury, a small planet with big surprises

"Once seen as a cold, dead little world" recent exploration finds Planet Mercury full of amazing stuff like "massive volcanism, strange impact craters and magnetic tornadoes that funnel plasma directly from the sun to the planet’s surface." (Wired)

One of Mercury's most awesome craters (186 miles across) "is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” and may force researchers “to go back and rethink” crater theories. A crater that size should have more volcanic material inside it, and its ridges should be more even.

Oh, space tornadoes. Pound360 just learned such things existed this week. And you don't have to go far to find them.
Earth is flanked by two space tornadoes, 44,000 miles wide, spinning at millions of miles per hour, and they're responsible for creating the Aurora Borealis. Well, Mercury has these bizarre tornadoes too, but they're 10-times as strong as Earth's and "allow solar wind plasma from the sun, very fast and very hot, to come right down [to] the surface,”

Pound360 has been watching the Mercury Mystery unfold (there have been a lot of surprises) for a little over a year now as NASA's Messenger Probe explores the planet.
More here.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.