MESSENGER Orbits Mercury for Crater Exploration
Studying the origin and history of any object in the outer space would mean studying its shape, its size, its structure, as well as the craters formed over time. These craters are actually very important when it comes to the study of planetary bodies.
The study of the craters is based from the combination of physics upon the creation of the crater and also the measurements of the crater dimensions. These factors would be the basis of scientists to identify the various solar objects that have made contact with the any object with crater formed.
Basically, to study these things, scientists would need to rely on two approaches. One is the laboratory impact approach wherein various experiments are conducted to generate conclusions based on the results of the experiment. In impact experiments, the physics that is behind the impact process can be concluded. The other approach is called the numerical experiment. In this approach, simulations are done using analytical methods and other computations to derive conclusions.
With the study of the craters formed, from old ones to new ones, scientists learn about how a planet could be formed or modified. Aside from that, the composition of the surface of these planetary objects can also be identified like rock, soil and ice proportions.
The spacecraft named MESSENGER is designed to explore the craters of the planet Mercury. Currently, the spacecraft is still observing the planet’s surface. The study of planet Mercury’s craters is very significant because its gravitational acceleration is identical to planet mars. It is believed that the gravitational acceleration plays significant role in transition diameter control.
The messenger has two systems used to capture data in Mercury, the Mercury Dual Imaging System or the MDIS and Mercury Laser Altimeter or the MLA. These system supplies the needed data to assess that shapes, structures and sizes of the craters found in mercury. The data obtained by the two systems give precise measurement of the diameter of the craters, whether big or small. MLA can’t be used for measuring wall interiors; this is the job of MDIS. Also, MDIS is used for measuring the depth of the crate through measurement of the shadow. The depth of the crater is the identifying factor to know whether a crater is new or old.
Now, MESSENGER is orbiting the innermost layer of the planet. Every day, new images are captured which widens the possibilities for thorough study of the craters of Mercury. These findings will bring discovery of the processes happening in the planet of Mercury, as well as in the entire Solar System.