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The scientific objectives behind BepiColombo can be viewed by considering the following 12 questions:
  1. What can we learn from Mercury about the composition of the solar nebula and the formation of the planetary system?
  2. Why is Mercury's normalized density markedly higher than that of all other terrestrial planets, Moon included?
  3. Is the core of Mercury liquid or solid?
  4. Is Mercury tectonically active today?
  5. Why does such a small planet possess an intrinsic magnetic field, while Venus, Mars and the Moon do not have any?
  6. Why do spectroscopic observations not reveal the presence of any iron, while this element is supposedly the major constituent of Mercury?
  7. Do the permanently shadowed craters of the polar regions contain sulphur or water ice?
  8. Is the unseen hemisphere of Mercury markedly different from that imaged by Mariner 10?
  9. What are the production mechanisms of the exosphere?
  10. In the absence of any ionosphere, how does the magnetic field interact with the solar wind?
  11. Is Mercury's magnetised environment characterised by features reminiscent of the aurorae, radiation belts and magnetospheric substorms observed at Earth?
  12. Since the advance of Mercury's perihelion was explained in terms of space-time curvature, can we take advantage of the proximity of the Sun to test general relativity with improved accuracy?
Last Update: 1 September 2019
19-May-2024 02:29 UT

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