Exploring Mercury: Scientific Results from the MESSENGER Mission
- As the smallest planet in our solar system, and the closest to the Sun, Mercury represents an end-member of planetary formation processes. Although visible to the naked eye, it is difficult to study due to its proximity to the Sun. Since March of 2011, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit around Mercury and its suite of scientific instruments have returned a wealth of data about the planet's surface, interior, magnetic field, and exosphere. This talk will review the mission, its key scientific discoveries and new puzzles raised by the MESSENGER data about our solar system's enigmatic innermost planet.