Before the Messenger spacecraft from NASA crashed on the surface of the Red planet, it sent precious data. Initial analysis of this data reveals that the magnetic field of mercury is around 4 billion years old. The lead author of the research, Catherine Johnson notified that the magnetic field was at one point of time 100 times stronger than what it is today. However, to confirm the study, further research would be need.
The closest planet to the sun is Mercury and is also the smallest among the solar system.
Messenger was launched by NASA in 2004 to explore mercury. To reach the smallest planet, the spacecraft took as much as 4 years. After a prolonged investigation it crashed into the surface of the red planet. During its mission, it has delivered in excess of 10,000 photographs to the space agency.
The analysis of the images received reveal that the crust of mercury is thinner at the pole and thicker in low altitudes. This is an indication that the planet may have water.
Some 85% of the radius of mercury is covered by its core. Compared to the radius of Earth, the ratio is relatively large. In other words, it shows that under the crust, mercury has a layer of water/liquid.
Researchers hold that the present discovery will pave way to further details on the origin of mercury.
A robotic spacecraft which circle mercury also detected magnetized rocks evidencing that the planet is continues roiling and the liquid meal core possibly spawned a global magnetic field way back some 3.8 million years ago.
Mercury is some 36 million miles from sun as compared to 93 million miles from the earth, and has proved to be an odd planet that is frigidly cold and scorchingly hot and the singular planet in the solar system with a global magnetic field generated by the dynamo motion of metallic fluids contained in the core.
The discovery of a magnetic field for mercury at such an early stage after its formation presents important clues to how and when the liquid iron core of this planet was formed, says Sean Solon, the lead scientist from Columbia University New York. The research further set certain boundaries for computer models that simulated the amount of heat that traveled into the thin silicate mantle of mercury. In turn, the heat has possibly contributed or sparked widespread volcanic eruptions around the same time, added Solomon.