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PUBLIC LECTURES

The RAS hosts popular 45-minute lunch- or evening-time lectures for non-specialists, at which members of the public can listen to leading scientists talk about their work. Please note that attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no charge, and doors open 30 minutes before the start of each lecture.

Venue: Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ, UK

London Underground: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus

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The planet Mercury, newly revealed, Geological Society Lecture Theatre
Date: 12 May 2015
Time: 13:00

An RAS Daytime Public Lecture: The planet Mercury, newly revealed

 

Professor David Rothery

Geological Society Lecture Theatre

 

Many questions remain for ESA's BepiColombo to answer ten years from now, but thanks to NASA's MESSENGER (orbiting Mercury March 2011-March 2015) we now know far more about the closest planet to the Sun than was possible from ground-based astronomy and the Mariner-10 flybys in the 1970s. Mercury is a rocky planet with a disproportionately large iron core. The outer core is molten, and dynamo processes there generate a magnetic field (unique among the terrestrial planets apart from Earth). It has a rich and dynamic exosphere. The surface is perplexingly rich in volatile elements such as S, K, Na and Cl, and there is widespread evidence of explosive volcanic eruptions (mostly more than 3 billion years ago, but extending into the past billion years) that must be driven by expanding volatiles. Such volatile abundance is hard to reconcile with models for Mercury's origin that call for much of its primordial rocky fraction to have been stripped away, possibly in a giant impact. Thermal contraction of the planet has led to widespread development of 'lobate scarps' at the surface that have taken up at least 7 km of radial contraction. The most recent macroscopic process to sculpt the surface (other than ongoing impact cratering) is the formation of 'hollows' – occurring as fields of steep-sided, flat-bottomed depressions tens of metres deep where a surface layer has been removed, seemingly by some sort of sublimation process. The volatile phase involved has not been identified.

 

David Rothery is Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University, and currently 'Lead Co-Investigator' for MIXS (Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer), the only UK-led instrument on ESA's BepiColombo Mercury orbiter (to be launched 2016). He is also co-leader of ESA's Mercury Surface & Composition Working Group.

His research interests centre on the study of volcanic activity by means of remote sensing, and volcanology and geoscience in general on other planets.

 

Copies of his book, Planets: A Very Short Introduction will be available at the lecture.




The planet Mercury, newly revealed, Royal Astronomical Society Lecture Theatre
Date: 12 May 2015
Time: 18:00

An RAS Public Lecture: The planet Mercury, newly revealed

Professor David Rothery

RAS Lecture Theatre

 (This lecture is a repeat of the day time lecture held at the Geological Society)

 

Many questions remain for ESA's BepiColombo to answer ten years from now, but thanks to NASA's MESSENGER (orbiting Mercury March 2011-March 2015) we now know far more about the closest planet to the Sun than was possible from ground-based astronomy and the Mariner-10 flybys in the 1970s. Mercury is a rocky planet with a disproportionately large iron core. The outer core is molten, and dynamo processes there generate a magnetic field (unique among the terrestrial planets apart from Earth). It has a rich and dynamic exosphere. The surface is perplexingly rich in volatile elements such as S, K, Na and Cl, and there is widespread evidence of explosive volcanic eruptions (mostly more than 3 billion years ago, but extending into the past billion years) that must be driven by expanding volatiles. Such volatile abundance is hard to reconcile with models for Mercury's origin that call for much of its primordial rocky fraction to have been stripped away, possibly in a giant impact. Thermal contraction of the planet has led to widespread development of 'lobate scarps' at the surface that have taken up at least 7 km of radial contraction. The most recent macroscopic process to sculpt the surface (other than ongoing impact cratering) is the formation of 'hollows' – occurring as fields of steep-sided, flat-bottomed depressions tens of metres deep where a surface layer has been removed, seemingly by some sort of sublimation process. The volatile phase involved has not been identified.

 

David Rothery is Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University, and currently 'Lead Co-Investigator' for MIXS (Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer), the only UK-led instrument on ESA's BepiColombo Mercury orbiter (to be launched 2016). He is also co-leader of ESA's Mercury Surface & Composition Working Group.

His research interests centre on the study of volcanic activity by means of remote sensing, and volcanology and geoscience in general on other planets.

 

Copies of his book, Planets: A Very Short Introduction will be available at the lecture.