Volcanoes on Mercury Solve 30-year Mystery (Via Volcano World)
A NASA spacecraft's first flyby of Mercury has yielded a wealth of information about the inner-most planet, some of which confirms volcanism occurred there, settling a longstanding debate.
Information about such planetary mysteries as Mercury's magnetic field and geological history also has flooded in.
"We're really pleased," said Sean C. Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, principal investigator for the MESSENGER probe. "[The data] gives us a lot to chew on."
MESSENGER (short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) made its debut flyby of Mercury on Jan. 14, passing about 124 miles (200 kilometers) over the planet's surface. The spacecraft's instruments took a closer look at the areas seen by the Mariner 10 mission in 1974 and 1975, which imaged about 45 percent of the planet's surface, as well as an additional 21 percent of the surface never before seen by a spacecraft.
In a collection of 11 papers detailed in the July 4 issue of the journal Science, mission scientists presented the preliminary findings of the initial flyby.