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April 11, 2008

Video on MESSENGER 1st flyby of Mercury

The American Museum of Natural History just released this great Science Bulletin video story highlighting the MESSENGER mission and the 1st flyby of Mercury back in January.

Iron snow on Mercury

One of the active areas of research in our group is developing understanding of mechanisms that can drive convection inside the metallic cores of solid planets and moons. Why? To understand what may be driving magnetic fields. Previously, we had demonstrated that in contrast to the Earth, Ganymede's magnetic field could be the result of solid iron precipitating at the core-mantle boundary and "snowing" inward, driving compositional convection. Based on new experimental results by colleagues Bin Chen and Jie Li at the University of Illinois we have shown that a similar set of results is possible for Mercury. The effect at Mercury is pronounced by non-ideal melting behavior of the Fe-FeS system at modest pressures. Indeed, it turns out that Mercury could also evolve to a state of having to distinct and separated zones of snowing iron in its core. All of these results will be useful in understanding the results that will be gained by the MESSENGER mission to Mercury once it gets into orbit.

Chen, Bin, Jie Lie, and Steven A. Hauck, II, Non-ideal liquidus curve in the Fe-FeS system and Mercury's snowing core , Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L07201, doi: 10.1029/2008GL033311 (2008). Article

November 14, 2007

Graduate Study in Earth and Planetary Science

The Department of Geological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University is currently accepting applications from students interested in pursuing graduate studies leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the earth, environmental, and planetary sciences. The Department offers flexible, research-intensive programs for graduate students. Applications are accepted on a continuing basis, though students requesting financial support are strongly encouraged to apply by February 1, 2008. Online applications are available through the School of Graduate Studies.

There are several opportunities for students interested in pursuing research in planetary science, particularly in the areas of planetary geology and geophysics, high-pressure and temperature geochemistry, and meteorites working with a group of faculty that includes myself, Prof. Harvey, and Prof. Van Orman.

At present I am collaborating with students to (1) understand the nature of Mars' crust and lithosphere and tectonic activity and (2) the mechanisms responsible for driving Ganymede's magnetic field. (3) I am also looking for graduate students interested in working with me on analyzing data from the MESSENGER Mission to Mercury to understand both the internal and tectonic evolution of that planet Additional opportunities within these may be available depending upon interest. We are also in the process of focusing new study on large lunar impact basins.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss opportunities for graduate study in planetary science and/or geophysics with interested students (my contact info is available on my webpage).