Chapter 9 Cratered Worlds

9.6 Key Concepts and Summary, Further Explorations

Key Concepts and Summary

Mercury is the nearest planet to the Sun and the fastest moving. Mercury is similar to the Moon in having a heavily cratered surface and no atmosphere, but it differs in having a very large metal core. Early in its evolution, it apparently lost part of its silicate mantle, probably due to one or more giant impacts. Long scarps on its surface testify to a global compression of Mercury’s crust during the past 4 billion years.

For Further Exploration


The Moon

Bakich, Michael. “Asia’s New Assault on the Moon.” Astronomy (August 2009): 50. The Japanese Selene and Chinese Chang’e 1 missions.

Beatty, J. “NASA Slams the Moon.” Sky & Telescope (February 2010): 28. The impact of the LCROSS mission on the Moon and what we learned from it.

Bell, T. “Warning: Dust Ahead.” Astronomy (March 2006): 46. What we know about lunar dust and the problems it can cause.

Dorminey, B. “Secrets beneath the Moon’s Surface.” Astronomy (March 2011): 24. A nice timeline of the Moon’s evolution and the story of how we are finding out more about its internal structure.

Jayawardhana, R. “Deconstructing the Moon.” Astronomy (September 1998): 40. An update on the giant impact hypothesis for forming the Moon.

Register, B. “The Fate of the Moon Rocks.” Astronomy (December 1985): 15. What was done with the rocks the astronauts brought back from the Moon.

Schmitt, H. “Exploring Taurus–Littrow: Apollo 17.” National Geographic (September 1973). First-person account given by the only scientist to walk on the Moon.

Schmitt, H. “From the Moon to Mars.” Scientific American (July 2009): 36. The only scientist to walk on the Moon reflects on the science from Apollo and future missions to Mars.

Schultz, P. “New Clues to the Moon’s Distant Past.” Astronomy (December 2011): 34. Summary of results and ideas from the LCROSS and LRO missions.

Shirao, M. “Kayuga’s High Def Highlights.” Sky & Telescope (February 2010): 20. Results from the Japanese mission to the Moon, with high definition TV cameras.

Wadhwa, M. “What Are We Learning from the Moon Rocks?” Astronomy (June 2013): 54. Very nice discussion of how the rocks tell us about Moon’s composition, age, and origin.

Wood, Charles. “The Moon’s Far Side: Nearly a New World.” Sky & Telescope (January 2007): 48. This article compares what we know about the two sides and why they are different.

Zimmerman, R. “How Much Water is on the Moon?” Astronomy (January 2014): 50. Results from the LRO’s instruments and good overview of issue.


Beatty, J. “Mercury Gets a Second Look.” Sky & Telescope (March 2009): 26. The October 2008 MESSENGER mission flyby.

Beatty, J. “Reunion with Mercury.” Sky & Telescope (May 2008): 24. The January 2008 MESSENGER encounter with Mercury.

“Mercury: Meet the Planet Nearest the Sun.” Sky & Telescope (March 2014): 39. Four-page pictorial introduction, including the new MESSENGER probe full map of the planet provided.

Oberg, J. “Torrid Mercury’s Icy Poles.” Astronomy (December 2013): 30. A nice overview of results from MESSENGER mission, including the ice in polar craters.

Sheehan, W., and Dobbins, T. “Mesmerized by Mercury.” Sky & Telescope (June 2000): 109. History of Mercury observations and how amateur astronomers can contribute.

Talcott, R. “Surprises from MESSENGER’s Historic Mercury Fly-by.” Astronomy (March 2009): 28.

Talcott, R. “Mercury Reveals its Hidden Side.” Astronomy (May 2008): 26. Results and image from the MESSENGER mission flyby of January 2008.


The Moon

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal: Information, interviews, maps, photos, video and audio clips, and much more on each of the Apollo landing missions.

Lunar & Planetary Institute: Lunar Science and Exploration web pages.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Page:

NASA’s Guide to Moon Missions and Information:

Origin of the Moon: By William Hartmann, who, with a colleague, first suggested the giant impact hypothesis for how the Moon formed, in 1975.

Sky & Telescope magazine’s observing guides and articles about the Moon:

To the Moon: PBS program on the Apollo landings.

We Choose the Moon: A recreation of the Apollo 11 mission.


Mercury Unveiled by G. Jeffrey Taylor (summarizing the Mariner 10 Mission):

MESSENGER Mission Website:

NASA Planetary Data Center Mercury Page:

Views of the Solar System Mercury Page:


  1. 1 Recall from the Radiation and Spectra chapter that magnetism is an effect of moving electric charges. In atoms of metals, the outer electrons are easier to dislodge and they can form a current when the metal is in liquid form and can flow.


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