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Tracking the Changes in Mercury's Orbit

Our Solar system is the gravitationally bound system that comprises the Sun and the objects that directly or indirectly orbit it.The orbits of planets in our solar system are expanding at a fast rate. The reason of such expansion is that the Sun's gravitational grip gradually weakens as our star grows old and loses mass.

Now, this mass loss has been measured by NASA and MIT scientistsby analyzing the subtle changes in Mercury's motion and getting how its dynamics influence the planet's orbit.They started the study by improving Mercury's road map of the planet's position in the sky over time. The team drew on radio tracking data that monitored the location of NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft while the mission was on air. The Mercury's motion, specially its perihelion, or the closest point to the Sun during its orbit has been a matter of study for a long period of time.  The perihelion shifts over time.  Mercury's precession, mostly affects the Sun's interior structure and dynamics. The researchers obtained an improved estimate of oblateness. Scientists have developed a technique that simultaneously estimated and integrated the orbits of both MESSENGER spacecraft and Mercury. The study ledto a comprehensive solution that includes quantities relating the evolution of Sun's interior and to relativistic effects. The latest research reflects how making measurements of planetary orbit changes throughout the solar system has opened the possibility of future discoveries about the nature of the Sun and other planets.

By: Anita Aishvarya


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