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In Our Time

BBC Radio 4



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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. With Emma Bunce Professor of Planetary Plasma Physics and Director of the Institute for Space at the University of Leicester David Rothery Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University And Carolin Crawford Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production Reading list: Emma Bunce, ‘All (X-ray) eyes on Mercury’ (Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 64, Issue 4, August 2023) Emma Bunce et al, ‘The BepiColombo Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer: Science Goals, Instrument Performance and Operations’ (Space Science Reviews: SpringerLink, volume 216, article number 126, Nov 2020) David A. Rothery, Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World (Springer, 2014)

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