How much chromium is there on Mercury?

"This is the inaugural detection and mapping of chromium across a planetary surface," scientists revealed.


Mercury, the solar system’s innermost planet, holds many unsolved riddles. With a metallic core comprising 85% of its volume, Mercury’s composition remains a puzzle for scientists. And while we have learned much about Mercury in recent decades, there is still much we don’t know, like, how much Chromium is there on Mercury?

How Much Chromium is There on Mercury?

NASA’s Discovery-class MESSENGER mission, the first to orbit Mercury, disclosed striking chemical disparities between Mercury and Earth. Mercury’s lower oxygen levels suggest distinct early solar system building blocks, but determining the planet’s oxidation state remains challenging.

Arizona State University’s Larry Nittler led a new study leveraging MESSENGER data to gauge the spread of chromium, a minor yet versatile element, across Mercury’s surface. Chromium, while renowned for its reflective qualities and anti-corrosion properties, can signal the chemical conditions where it found incorporation into rocks.


Variance in Chromium Abundance

Nittler’s team discovered a four-fold variance in chromium quantities across Mercury. Comparing these findings with theoretical models helped researchers deduce the existence of chromium within Mercury’s large metallic core and establish new parameters on the planet’s overall oxidation state.

“This is the inaugural detection and mapping of chromium across a planetary surface,” Nittler said. The element’s affinity for various states under oxygen availability provides unique insights into Mercury’s genesis and geologic history, he added.

Modeling its Distribution

Co-author Asmaa Boujibar from Western Washington University, who executed the modeling in the study, emphasized the need for experiments simulating Mercury’s specific oxygen-deficient environment. “Mercury’s unique composition and formation conditions make direct comparison with terrestrial rocks impossible,” Boujibar stated.


The researchers combined laboratory data and scrutinized chromium behavior under different oxygen levels. Their model subsequently delved into chromium distribution within Mercury’s layers. The study reveals a considerable amount of chromium, like iron, sequestered within the core, providing vital insights into the planetary elemental composition and geological phenomena.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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