Mercury: new views on the Sun’s most innermost planet

Prof. David Rothery, The Open Univeristy, delivering his lecture

Prof. David Rothery, The Open University, delivering his lecture. Photo: Kate Bradshaw

I’m a geologist who now works mostly on other worlds, and the one that is keeping me busiest at present is Mercury. This is the closest planet to the Sun, which means that is always much closer to Earth than Jupiter ever gets.

However, it is harder to study because the Sun’s glare makes it difficult to observe with telescopes, and the Sun’s gravity poses an enormous challenge if you want to get a spacecraft into orbit about Mercury.

NASA achieved this with its MESSENGER orbiter (2011-2015), and I’m on the science team for the European Space Agency’s BepiColombo orbiter 2024-2025, due for launch in later 2016.

2015 Science Matters Lecture
I recently introduced school students, teachers and members of the public from Milton Keynes to my research at the 2015 Science Matters lectures.

You can watch a recording of my talk below.

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