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The geology of Mercury and the BepiColombo mission

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Hannah Sanderson.

Mercury is a weird planet. It has relatively little rock surrounding its iron core, but this rock is surprisingly rich in volatile elements. Almost all the crust is volcanic lava flows more than 3 billion years old, but explosive eruptions (which must be driven by volatiles expanding violently as gas) persisted into the last billion years. Present-day volatile loss leaves ‘moth-eaten’ patches called ‘hollows’ where 10-20m of surface material has been removed, by a gentle process possibly akin to sublimation. The BepiColombo spacecraft, launched in October, will begin science in Mercury orbit in 2026. It should be able to map and identify the volatiles, as well as imaging Mercury in more detail than ever before.

The talk will be followed by refreshments outside the lecture theatre. The talk will be at 7:30pm at the usual location of Wolfson lecture theatre in the Department of Chemistry. The entrance is the opposite side of the building to Bristol-Myers-Squibb Lecture theatre and is opposite the car park- shown by the red arrow on the map.,0.125242,18 Tickets are £2 (free for members) and annual membership (£7) and life membership (£12) can also be purchased at the event – please bring cash.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Astronomical Society (CUAS) series.

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