I’m Rebecca Thomas, a planetary geologist working on Mercury, Mars and the Moon. I started off with Mars, discovering really recent lava or water flow on the Cerberus plains as part of my Earth Sciences degree.
Much as I love Mars, I then jumped further towards the Sun to study Mercury for my PhD (which I recently completed). With the MESSENGER spacecraft sending back new images from 2011-2015, this is a fascinating new frontier. I’ve particularly looked at landforms that seem to form due to the surprisingly high volatile content of Mercury: enigmatic possible sublimation pits known as hollows, and huge pits with surrounding deposits that are thought to form by explosive volcanism. Both types of activity have continued until relatively recently, showing that Mercury is far from the dry, dead planet we were expecting when MESSENGER arrived there. I also kept a lookout for potential target areas for the even great capabilities of the forthcoming BepiColombo mission so it can resolve the mysteries MESSENGER can’t. You can see my OU page here.
There’s always a danger of getting fixated on one planet, so with this blog I range across the new work in every area of planetary geology, from our terrestrial neighbours to the outer moons and exoplanets. These are exciting times in planetary exploration and I hope you’ll have fun joining me on the adventure.