5 May, 2024 520 Astronomy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet which is closest to our Sun. We see it as an evening or a morning star, close to where the Sun has just set or is about to rise, and observations of Mercury helped Copernicus understand that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun, so displacing Earth from the centre of our system. In the 20th century, further observations of Mercury helped Einstein prove his general theory of relativity. For the last 50 years we have been sending missions there to reveal something of Mercury’s secrets and how those relate to the wider universe, and he latest, BepiColombo, is out there in space now.

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  • Emma Bunce No other episodes
    Professor of Planetary Plasma Physics and Director of the Institute for Space at the University of Leicester
  • David Rothery No other episodes
    Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University
  • Carolin Crawford 20 episodes
    Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Reading list

  • All (X-ray) eyes on Mercury
    Emma Bunce (Astronomy & Geophysics, August 2023)
  • The BepiColombo Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer: Science Goals, Instrument Performance and Operations
    Emma Bunce et al (Space Science Reviews, Nov 2020)
  • Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World
    David A. Rothery (Springer, 2014) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 523.43 (Mercury (Planet))

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Mercury is the planet closest to our sun and as it's visible to the naked eye it's intrigued humanity for as long as we've been here.