We are interested in using a variety of approaches to characterize Mercury, one of the terrestrial planets, in order to further our understanding of the formation and evolution of planets like Earth.

Earth-based Observations

With Earth-based telescopes, it is possible to measure the spin state of Mercury and to probe the interior of the planet. We found that Mercury has a molten core. Links and illustrations related to our Science paper can be found here.

We used Earth-based observations over a period of 10 years to characterize the spin state of Mercury in great detail, which enabled a measurement of the size of the core. A paper summarizes our findings.

Science Magazine Cover

MESSENGER Observations

We combined gravity information from MESSENGER with our spin state measurements to characterize the interior of Mercury.

We are also modeling the response of a planet to the influence of solar tides, and we find that one can place additional constraints on the nature of the interior by measuring the tidal amplitude.