First World Problems: The Smallest Planet In The Solar System Is Shrinking
Images captured by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft have provided an illustration of Mercury’s shrinking and wrinkling surface over the past 4 billion years. While the behavior of Earth’s outermost shell can best be explained through plate tectonics and the shifting of our lithosphere, Mercury has but one solid shell for a crust. As the planet’s molten core has cooled since its formation billions of years ago, the planet itself has contracted causing Mercury’s rocky exterior to crack and shift to accommodate the smaller size, much like the wrinkles that form on the skin of an apple skin as it dries out and shrinks.
“We see the landscape literally crumpling up,” said William McKinnon, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. “Massive slabs of rock are sliding over one another.”
As for the change in size, the study found in the journal Nature Geoscience notes that Mercury has seemingly contracted in radius in some locations as far as 7 kilometers, making the modern-day radial measurement of the planet 2,440 kilometers.
NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft ended its mission today, as planned, by colliding with Mercury. Read more: http://www.penny4nasa.org/2015/04/30/watch-messenger-spacecraft-end-of-mission/Celebrate NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft by writing to Congress to let them know you support increasing NASA's budget: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/Read more:http://goo.gl/4Kw7DMhttp://goo.gl/ZCXTNhhttp://goo.gl/XcuXKL #FirstWorldProblems #NASA #Mercury #Space