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Small collisions make big impact on Mercury’s thin atmosphere

1 Oct 2017, 16:00 UTC
Small collisions make big impact on Mercury’s thin atmosphere NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers. Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft — short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging, a mission that observed Mercury from 2011 to 2015 — has shed new light on how certain types of comets influence the lopsided bombardment of Mercury’s surface by tiny dust particles called micrometeoroids. This study also gave new insight into how these micrometeoroid showers can shape Mercury’s very thin atmosphere, called an exosphere.

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