Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meteorites from Mercury

A rare few rocks lying around on Earth may have been blasted here from Mercury, say two Canadian theorists. It is known that most meteorites which found on earth comes from asteroids, but a few only came from the Moon and Mars and they are very rare. They end up here after asteroids or comets smash into these objects hard enough to kick some debris to escape velocity. The ejected pieces go into solar orbit, and a few eventually end up hitting Earth, and even fewer find its way on it's surface if they survive the rough journey of Earth's atmosphere.

Brett Gladman and Jaime Coffey (University of British Columbia) argue that Mercury should be on the roster of meteorite sources. They modeled where impact-launched rocks travel after they escape the planet, and find that up to 5% should make their way here.

Is there any, yet
No definite meteorite specimen from Mercury is known so far, in part because we still don't know the composition of the planet's surface. But the Messenger spacecraft, which recently flew past Mercury, and begin orbiting it in march 2011, should at least tell us what to look for if we begin the hunt for Mercury-meteorites.

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