Geological mapping of the planet Mercury

Lead Research Organisation: Open University
Department Name: Physical Sciences

Abstract

Geological mapping of the planet Mercury

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/N50421X/1 30/09/2015 30/03/2021
1656034 Studentship ST/N50421X/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2018 Jack Wright
 
Description I have produced the first geological map of the Hokusai quadrangle of Mercury. Mercury is divided into 15 arbitrary mapping quadrangles, which are defined by lines of latitude and longitude. The first spacecraft to visit Mercury was Mariner 10 (1975-1976). It never imaged the Hokusai quadrangle, which meant that its geology couldn't be studied until the MESSENGER spacecraft arrived over thirty years later (2008-2015). I have used data from the MESSENGER spacecraft to make my map. I have found that there has possibly been a more protracted and widespread history of effusive volcanism within the Hokusai quadrangle than is apparent elsewhere on the planet. In addition to my map, I have researched small-scale, late-stage volcanism across Mercury. I published a paper about the first candidate constructional volcanic edifices (small shield volcanoes, potentially similar to those found in Iceland) on Mercury. I also described the blocks deposited around the Caloris basin, the largest impact basin on Mercury (> 1500 km across). These contain materials that have been excavated from the deep interior of Mercury, and so offer a rare opportunity to study such materials at the surface of the planet.
Exploitation Route My geological map will be very useful for providing science context and targets for the joint ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. BepiColombo launched in October 2018 and will begin returning science data in 2026. Before then, my map will be useful for fuelling continued regional and global studies of the geology of Mercury in the MESSENGER-era of research. For example, the map is being integrated with age and compositional data through PLANMAP, which is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project (grant 776276). This will lead to future publications about the planetary geological map production.
Sectors Education

 
Description BSG Postgrad Conference Attendance
Amount £550 (GBP)
Organisation British Society for Geomorphology 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 03/2017
 
Description GeoPlaNet
Amount € 1,200 (EUR)
Organisation Pays de la Loire Region 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 04/2019 
End 05/2019
 
Description Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award (2018)
Amount $1,500 (USD)
Organisation Lunar and Planetary Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country United States
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2018
 
Description RSPSoc Travel Bursary
Amount £250 (GBP)
Organisation Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 03/2017
 
Description Royal Astronomical Society Small Grants Sceme: Conference attendance
Amount £750 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Astronomical Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2018
 
Description Molards in the Solar System 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Marshall Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our research team designed, conducted, and wrote up the research entitled 'Modification of Caloris ejecta blocks by long-lived mass-wasting: a volatile-driven process?'
Collaborator Contribution Nantes: Provided computational methods and terrestrial data. NASA: Provided insight into topographic diffusion.
Impact Manuscript in submission.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Molards in the Solar System 
Organisation University of Nantes
Department Laboratory of Planetology and Geodynamics of Nantes
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team designed, conducted, and wrote up the research entitled 'Modification of Caloris ejecta blocks by long-lived mass-wasting: a volatile-driven process?'
Collaborator Contribution Nantes: Provided computational methods and terrestrial data. NASA: Provided insight into topographic diffusion.
Impact Manuscript in submission.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Pyroclastic volcanism in the Solar System 
Organisation Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Country Czech Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The OU research team provided geological context of the planet Mercury.
Collaborator Contribution The Institute of Geophysics (Czech Academy of Sciences) conducted numerical modelling of pyroclastic cone constuction on Mercury and wrote the resultant paper manuscript.
Impact https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GL079902
Start Year 2018
 
Description Article in The Conversation on BepiColombo 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article on what BepiColombo is capable of, and its costs, published to coincide with its final tests before shipping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://theconversation.com/the-bepicolombo-spacecraft-is-ready-to-solve-the-many-mysteries-of-mercu...
 
Description Exhibit for special interest group - The Macclesfield Astronomical Society Winter Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 100 people were booked to attend the Macclesfield Astronomical Society Winter Festival. This was a recruitment drive for the society. I showcased OU planetary mapping research, including my Hokusai map.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Planmap/GMAP Virtual Winter School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 197 international early career planetary science students/researchers registered for the Planmap/GMAP Virtual Winter School. They attended lectures and participated in online practical activities, where they were guided by expert demonstrators. Jack Wright devised, organised, and instructed on S3, the Mercury geological mapping exercise, which had 36 attendees (from Italy, the UK, France, and some other countries). The participants learnt GIS and planetary geological mapping skills and submitted thier maps to earn a certificate of participation. The mapping area was a subsection of the Hoksauic quadrangle map Jack Wright produced as part of his PhD thesis (this award).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.planetarymapping.eu/
 
Description Press release - Named feature 'Heaney' on planet Mercury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The Open University did a press release after an impact crater on Mercury was officially named 'Heaney' according to my suggestion. This led to a letter of thanks being sent to me from the Heaney family.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/republic-of-ireland/news/ou-phd-student-names-crater-mercury-after-irish-poet
 
Description Press release - Named feature 'Unity Rupes' on planet Mercury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The Open University did a press release after I submitted the name 'Unity Rupes' for a lobate scarp (geological fault) on the planet Mercury, following my geological mapping of the region as part of my PhD research. This led to an interview that was published in a local paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Pubkic understanding of science talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on the geology of Mercury at St Pauls Catholic School, Milton Keynes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.st-pauls.org.uk/extra-curricular/events-and-lectures
 
Description Radio interview - BBC Three Counties radio interview about the Transit of Mercury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed by Roberto Perrone on BBC Three counties Radio about the Transit of Mercury itself and the public viewing and science festival being hosted by the Open University at the time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description School visit (Falconhurst School, Milton Keynes) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I visited two classes of Year 5 pupills (~25 in each class). I showed them space pictures, meteorites, and got them thinking about the orbit of the Moon and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk at a public engagement event - The Transit of Mercury festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a talk at a public viewing of the 2016 transit of Mercury, hosted at the Open University. I spoke about the geology of the planet Mercury to an audience of composed primarily of the general public and school-age children. As well as answering their questions after the talk, I also showed people how to view the transit through solar telescopes throughout the day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk at a public museum event - Science Uncovered at the Ulster Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a talk at The Ulster Museum as part of a group of academics fielded from The Open University. I was particularly pleased to speak to people from my native Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk to general science conference - EuroScience Open Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave a talk about the importance of space sciences in society to a room of journalists, members of the public, and the local MP. I spoke about the technological, economical, and educational benefits to Britain and the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk to school pupils - Schools Young Physicists of the Year award ceremony 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact ~20 school pupils, accompanied by their parents and teachers, attended an award ceremony hosted at the Open University. I delivered a talk about my research and how I got to be a PhD student. A discussion followed with questions from pupils, parents and teachers alike.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The Friends of the Sedgwick Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ~30 local people from the Cambridge area attended my talk about geological mapping of the planet Mercury. Most of the audience were geologists (amateur and professional), and were chiefly familiar with terrestrial geology. I fielded a lengthy question and answer session. I was later told that the talk was one of the best received by the group for many years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://issuu.com/libraryhelp/docs/issue_34_september_2017-reva-2
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The Harrow and Hillingdon Geological Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Up to 50 members of the Harrow and Hillingdon Geologicla Society attended my invited lecture, which sparked questions and discussion of my geological map of the Hokusai quadrangle of Mercury.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.hhgs.org.uk/monthly_meetings/previous_meetings/previous_meetings.htm
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The Leicester Literature and Philosophical Society Section C (Geology) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ~50 people from the Leicester area attended. I delivered a talk about the geology of the planet Mercury alongside lecturers and professors from other institutions. I fielded a healthy question and answer session and had many conversations with individual audience members afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The Macclesfield Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ~50 members of the public attended my talk about the geology of the planet Mercury. A lengthy discussion followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The OU Astronomy Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a talk to the OU Astronomy Club about the geology of the planet Mercury. After my talk there was some discussion about my research and the observations that had been made by the group of the planet. Later in the meeting I contributed to their discussions of night sky objects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to special interest group - The William Carleton Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave an invited lecture to the William Carleton Society about how geological features are named on mercury and other bodies in the Solar system. I concentrated on geological mapping at the Open University. The audience was mainly interested in literature, but they were enthusiastic to learn about a completely different field of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.williamcarletonsociety.org/
 
Description Talk to undergraduates - Sedgwick Club (University of Cambridge Earth Scientists) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact ~20 students attended my talk about the difficulties in conducting planetary geology. There was a lot of debate about whether or not planetary maps should be dubbed 'geological' since there is very little opportunity for ground truth.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The Transit of Mercury Event 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Staff members, students, and visitors to the Open University were able to observe the transit of Mercury on 11th November 2019 using telescopes and solar viewers at the Walton Hall campus. Mercury- and Phobos-related OU research was showcased at the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/science/physical-science/news/mercury-transit