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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MK students are go for launch…

Dr Leanne Gunn, The Open University

Dr Leanne Gunn, The Open University

Following the success of last year’s competition, July 2014 once again saw bottle rockets launching from the school field of Denbigh Teaching School in Milton Keynes.

Four teams of six year 9 students, each representing a different Milton Keynes school competed on the day to build two successful rockets 2 litre plastic bottles and simple craft materials.

I was working on the competition as one of the organisers, working with a team that included: Richard Holliman, Ben Dryer, Vic Pearson, and Diane Ford from the Open University, Mark Russell and Val Hawthorne from Denbigh Teaching School, and Jessica Carr who was working as an intern.

Here’s how the day went…

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The story of cafe scientifique at TedX UoN

Ann Grand

I’ve been involved with Cafe Scientifique for over ten years now and supported volunteer organisers to set up cafes all over the world. Closer to home, we’ve used the cafe scientifique model to develop a series of research cafes in schools in Milton Keynes as part of our Engaging Research project.
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