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Press Release 07-047
Mercury's Soft Center

Ground-based telescopes find strong evidence that Mercury has molten core

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An artist's rendition of the interior structure of Mercury.

An artist's rendition of the interior structure of Mercury suggests that the metallic core extends from the center through a large fraction of the planet. Ground-based telescope observations suggest that the outer core is molten.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation


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An artistic rendering of the observational geometry researchers used to study Mercury.

An artistic rendering of the observational geometry researchers used to study Mercury shows a radar signal (yellow) transmitted from the Goldstone antenna in California. The radar echoes (red) are received at the Goldstone antenna and at NSF's Robert C. Byrd telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia.

Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF


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The illustration depicts the trajectory of radar speckles tied to the rotation of Mercury.

The illustration depicts the trajectory (green circles, 1 second timestep) of radar speckles tied to the rotation of Mercury. Observers measured how long it takes for the pattern to travel between two antennas (red triangles) to measure the rotation rate of Mercury.

Credit: Jean-Luc Margot, Cornell University


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