It doesn't make sense. It is a strange rock with a strange composition.
David Rothery is a planetary scientist at the Open University in England.
Most of the planet is taken up by its core. It lacks a thick mantle like Earth has, and no one is quite sure why. Billions of years ago, a large object could have hit this mini-Mercury, stripping away its outer layers and leaving a remnant behind.
There is never direct evidence for it. Some researchers think they have found something. In work presented at the lunar and planetary science conference in Houston in March, a planetary scientist and his colleagues said pieces of theMercury may be in museums and meteorite collections. The planet's mysteries could be unlocked by studying them.
At the moment, we don't have any samples of Mercury. Gaining such specimen would be a small revolution in understanding the natural history of the solar system.
Over 67,000 meteorites have been gathered around the world from places as remote as the Sahara and Antarctica, finding their way into museums and other collections. Most come from asteroids that were ejected from the belt between Mars and Jupiter. There are more than 300 from Mars.
meteorites from our solar system, Venus and Mercury, are not included in the documented space rocks. It's thought that it's difficult for debris closer to the sun to get to the solar system.
There is a small number of meteorite collections. Aubrites are pale in color and contain small amounts of metal, named after the village of Aubres in France, where the first meteorite of this type was found in 1836. They seem to have formed in an ocean of molten rock. There are about 80 meteorites on Earth.
They seem to match models of conditions on the planet Mercury in earlier days of the solar system.
They are not saying they are pieces of Mercury. In 2010, Klaus Keil, a scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who died in February, argued that there were more likely to be other asteroids than Mercury. He had evidence that the solar wind had blasted the Aubrites, something Mercury should have protected against.
Dr. Cartier has another idea. What if Mercury was where the aubrites originally came from?
About a third of the planet's mass would have been thrown into space following the collision of a large object with a younger Mercury. The E-type asteroids were formed by a small amount of debris pushed into the asteroid belt by the solar wind.
There, the asteroids would have remained for billions of years, occasionally smashing together and being blasted by the solar wind. She suggested that some pieces were pushed toward Earth and eventually fell to our planet.
The composition of Mercury is similar to that of Aubrite, according to data from NASA's Messenger spacecraft.
The origin of Mercury could be determined by the shallowest parts of the mantle.
It would mean that we have had pieces of Mercury in drawers and display cases for more than 150 years.
Sara Russell, a meteorite expert at the Natural History Museum in London, said it would be fantastic. There are 10 Aubrites in the museum.
Some experts have doubts about the hypothesis.
There is not enough aubritic material in meteorite collections to determine if their contents match models of the super Mercury, according to Jean-Alix Barrat, ageosciences professor at the University of Western Brittany in France.
He said that the authors are a little bit optimistic.
She said she removed rocks from her samples to make sure they were representative of nickel and cobalt.
It just doesn't make sense that Mercury could hit Earth billions of years later.
The solar wind can push material away from Mercury to link it to E-type asteroids, according to Christopher Spalding, an expert in planet formation.
He said that the young sun could send pieces of Mercury to the asteroid belt. It is possible that the material was scattered further out before it reached our planet.
The proposal could be put to the test soon. A European-Japanese space mission called BepiColombo is on its way to Mercury. A group of BepiColombo scientists were presented with her idea.
Dr. Rothery is a member of the BepiColombo science team. He said they could look for evidence of nickel in Mercury's surface to link the planet to collected Aubrites.
He notes that the surface of Mercury will only resemble what was left behind from the early Mercury. He said the results would feed into the modeling.
If Mercury is found to be an active and violent early solar system, it will add to evidence of an active and violent early solar system, according to an astronomer from the University of Bern.
He said that it will show that giant impacts are common and that they play an important role in shaping the architectures of planetary systems.
Dr. Cartier is testing her ideas by melting some samples. If these experiments and the data from BepiColombo support her hypothesis, we could see some of the most remarkable meteorites ever collected.