Status Report

The Elusive Origin of Mercury

By SpaceRef Editor
December 26, 2017
Filed under , , ,

Denton S. Ebel, Sarah T. Stewart
(Submitted on 21 Dec 2017)

The MESSENGER mission sought to discover what physical processes determined Mercury’s high metal to silicate ratio. Instead, the mission has discovered multiple anomalous characteristics about our innermost planet. The lack of FeO and the reduced oxidation state of Mercury’s crust and mantle are more extreme than nearly all other known materials in the solar system. In contrast, moderately volatile elements are present in abundances comparable to the other terrestrial planets. No single process during Mercury’s formation is able to explain all of these observations. Here, we review the current ideas for the origin of Mercury’s unique features. Gaps in understanding the innermost regions of the solar nebula limit testing different hypotheses. Even so, all proposed models are incomplete and need further development in order to unravel Mercury’s remaining secrets.

Comments:    To appear in “Mercury: The View after MESSENGER” edited by Solomon, Nittler & Anderson ( This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. 37 pages, 5 figures

Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1712.08234 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1712.08234v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sarah Stewart
[v1] Thu, 21 Dec 2017 22:15:56 GMT (872kb)

SpaceRef staff editor.