PerspectivePlanetary Science

The Strangest Terrestrial Planet

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Science  13 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6078, pp. 162-163
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220825

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Every great planetary mission makes surprising discoveries, and NASA's MESSENGER mission has made more than its share (13). Now new reports on Mercury's gravity field and topography, by Smith et al. on page 214 (4) and by Zuber et al. on page 217 (5), respectively, up the ante, showing Mercury to be utterly unique among the terrestrial planets. The combination of detailed gravity measurements and high-precision topography is even more powerful, yielding the first views of Mercury's inner layering and mechanical structure.