Astrophysicists have had a field day on the photographs and data recently returned by the NASA MESSENGER space probe to Mercury, publishing 11 papers in a recent issue of Science. Unfortunately, every one of their conclusions is incorrect. It is truly a shame that NASA engineers pull off so many precise missions only to have the data completely misinterpreted by ‘scientists.’
One glaring error is their conclusion that volcanism helped shape the tiny planet. This idea is based on the perfectly spherical shape of the material within impact craters. This did happen on Venus relatively recently, since Venus is a new planet with a roiling hot interior covered only by a thin crust of basalt. Larger impacts punched holes in the thin crust and the boiling hot rock just beneath immediately flowed up into the crater to the normal surface level. But the reason for the similar shape within the impact craters on Mercury is fundamentally different.
Mercury is a solid iron sphere that formed as the inner core of the most ancient terrestrial planet over the last 4.5 billion years. Only 2,700 years ago that planet, while very close to the Earth split into two when its solid core was pulled out through its mantle by tidal forces of Venus and the Moon. At that date it swooped low around the Earth before being deflected into the inner solar system. It was called Hermes (Greek), Hathor (Egyptian) and Mercury (Roman). This low fast orbit was the origin of its great speed in ancient myth. Also, the Greeks said that Hermes built a lyre, because the hot glowing sphere was marred by a series of straight, parallel lines that resembled the strings of such an instrument. These were grooves gouged by the rocks lining the Valles Marineris on Mars as it exited. Mars was the mantle of the ancient planet.
The enormous mass of rock ejected from the northern third of the ancient planet, which I call priori-Mars, during the Bronze and Iron Ages is spread throughout the inner solar system. It comprises all Near Earth Asteriods, comets, meteorites, the lunar maria, regolith and the similar regolith that has accumulated on the surface of Mercury in the last 2,700 years since it settled into its current orbit. Thus, Mercury is a perfectly spherical iron body, on which have fallen innumerable rocks and dust from the same planet in which it was the core. The larger rocks impacting Mercury form shallow craters in the regolith already on its surface but cannot penetrate the solid iron body of Mercury. This is the reason for the perfectly spherical shapes revealed within the craters. There is no volcanism on Mercury. It is a solid sphere of iron with a sprinkling of regolith.
Astrophysicists believe that Mercury has a thicker, rocky, outer layer, similar to Earth, because its overall density is slightly less than iron. But this density is similar ot the solid core of the Earth, i.e. slightly less than that of pure iron – another fact still unexplained by astrophysicists. Some suggest that there is sulfur mixed in with the iron, but because S is so dense, there would have to be a lot of it, and this is not a popular idea. The astrophysicists seem ignorant of super-high pressure, diamond anvil experiments in which hydrogen was found to move easily and reversibly into the iron lattice, forming a layered structure of FeH. The experimenters noted that the structure of thsi FeH resembled that of some superconductors,
Thus the slightly lower than iron density of Mercury is an indication that deep in its interior, where the pressure is still high, some of the original FeH still exists and, because it is a superconductor, is the origin of Mercury’s internal magnetic field. This will become clear if its magnetic field is determined to be a perfect dipole, because the mechanism currently accepted for the origin of such magnetic fields both on Mercury and the Earth, the so-called dynamo effect, cannot produce a perfect dipole field.
Keep tuned for the future encounters of MESSENGER with Mercury. There is great potential for new revelations.