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Mercury is a most unusual planet. The smallest planet in the solar system, and the closest planet to the sun, it is in a 3:2 spin resonance, slowly turning and experiencing scorching heat up to 430 degrees Celsius, and the night side frigid, down to-170 degrees Celsius. Due to its much larger iron-rich core compared to Earth, it has the second-highest average density in the solar system, just 1.5 percent below Earth’s. Despite its proximity to the sun, the surface of Mercury was, surprisingly, found to be rich in volatile elements such as sodium and sulfur.

Notably, the planet’s separation into an iron-rich core and rocky mantle (the geological region between the core and the crust) suggests Mercury had a early in its formation. Like any liquid, this ocean would have evaporated, but in the case of Mercury, the temperatures were likely to have been so high that the vapor was not composed of water, but rock. In a new study published in The Planetary Science Journal, Noah Jäggi and colleagues modeled how the evaporation of the surface of this magma ocean would form an atmosphere and determined whether losses from the atmosphere could alter Mercury’s composition, addressing an open question of why moderately like sodium have accumulated on Mercury’s surface. Their results were surprising, Jäggi, a graduate student at the University of Bern, told

Early planetary magma oceans aren’t unusual, explained Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. “We think all rocky planets have one or more—maybe several—magma oceans as they form. The impacts of accretion toward the end of planet formation are just that energetic; they will melt the planets to some depth.”

An energetic eruptive filament on EK Draconis most probably launched a coronal mass ejection with a mass ten times larger than the largest solar coronal mass ejection. Studying such ejections provides insight into stellar angular momentum loss and the habitability of orbiting planets.

Even as commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space prepares to launch the first fully private crew to the International Space Station early next year, its engineers are also developing in-house spacesuits.

Texas-based Axiom teased the spacesuits in a tweet posted on Nov. 23. While the suits fit into Axiom’s own long-term plans of creating private space stations that can host paid research missions, the company also hopes to provide the suits to NASA as the space agency prepares for crewed Artemis program launches to the moon.

It’s the stuff of science fiction but it’s real.

Although it may sound like science fiction, space-based solar power has started making headway with several projects underway. In February, we brought you news of technology firm Redwire acquiring Deployable Space Systems (DSS), a leading supplier of deployable solar arrays capable of enabling space missions with the intention of using them to deploy space-based solar power.

Meanwhile, last August we brought you further news, of Caltech’s Space Solar Power Project (SSPP) that collected solar power in space to be transmitted wirelessly to Earth offering energy unaffected by weather or time of day. The project promised to make solar power that could be continuously available anywhere on earth.

And kick off a new cosmic economy.

NASA’s probe knows where it’s going, but it has no idea what it’s going to find.

That’s the crux of the challenge for Psyche, a spacecraft slated to blast off in 2022. Its target? An asteroid of the same name. Called “16 Psyche,” it’s one of the 1.1 million to 1.9 million large asteroids we know are in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. But information about 16 Psyche is scant. Scientists know it’s shaped like a potato, and the light that reflects off its surface suggests the asteroid is “unusually rich in metal,” according to a recent press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

That makes it an attractive scientific target because it could be a relic of our solar system’s earliest days. The uncertainty is a huge challenge for the mission. Without much information about its density, mass, or spin, the mission team is depending on data from Psyche to plan its encounter with the asteroid.

That data won’t just offer a glimpse into the early Solar System — it could also set the stage for asteroid mining.

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