“For more than 35 years we have been uncertain about the role of volcanic activity on Mercury,” said James W, Head III, professor of geological sciences at Brown University.
But no more.
The MESSENGER team confirmed, in a recent Science Paper, that Mercury’s northern latitudes are covered in smooth plains which show several flow features along the margins and embay or cover several impact craters. These flows are massive covering 6 percent of Mercury’s surface, an area that would cover nearly 60 percent of the continental United States, and are similar to flood basalt eruptions on Earth.
Watch MESSENGER PI, Sean Solomon, present an overview of the new discoveries here. For even more detail, watch both oral presentations (The View From Orbit II & III) from this years AGU Meeting. (You will have to scroll to get to the right presentations)
Want a guided tour of Mercury? Now you can have one in Google Earth!!
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and entered orbit about Mercury on March 17, 2011