Mercury’s dark, barely reflective surface has long been a mystery to scientists. Now, researchers believe that a steady rain of carbon over billions of years from comets crumbling near the Sun has coated the innermost planet.
What’s the youngest Moon you’ve ever seen? While the best opportunities generally occur in Northern Hemisphere spring when the ecliptic’s high, 21st January offers UK observers a 28-hour-old lunar crescent.
Running low on fuel after completing the first global survey of Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft could get an extra month of time at the solar system’s innermost planet thanks to a crafty new way of using helium gas to temporarily forestall the mission’s end next year.
To celebrate MESSENGER’s highly successful ten-year mission, you’re invited to immortalise five famous artists, composers or writers by naming craters on Mercury in their honour — but hurry, the contest closes 15th January 2015!