Planetary Science Division (PSD) Science Nugget Submission Template

Science Nuggets are used to highlight important science results from research and analysis (R&A) and mission activities across PSD. Please provide your technical information on a level that is understandable and accessible to non-experts in the field. A subset of these submissions will be selected by PSD leadership to be presented to the Science Mission Directorate leadership and, potentially, NASA leadership, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or the White House. Please complete the information below in its entirety to be considered by PSD leadership for presentation. If what you write is not clear for a general audience, it will not be considered. Most importantly, the question about why this result is important must be clearly stated (e.g., what are the implications for this work?). Submission of a science nugget requires that there is an accompanying publication. Any questions regarding science nuggets should be sent to

Example: Why is the surface of Mercury so dark?
Example: We used high pressure and high temperature experiments as well as numerical modeling to better understand what minerals would sink or float in a global magma ocean on Mercury.
Example: Our results indicate that graphite is the main cause of Mercury’s dark surface! When you look up at the Moon, you see bright white parts that are thought to be from the mineral plagioclase floating to the surface of a global lunar magma ocean. Similarly, on Mercury, we expect graphite would have floated to the surface of its magma ocean. Subsequent volcanism and impacts have caused the graphite to mix in with the surface materials, creating an overall darkening effect of the planet.
Example: A graphite layer on the surface of Mercury has broad implications for the changes in temperature and chemical composition of the planet over time as well as the distribution of volatiles across the solar system. The potential remnants of this layer, seen today in Mercury’s low reflectance material, offer a unique opportunity to study the earliest stages of planet evolution and crust formation with future missions to the innermost planet.
If you would like to send an additional figure, please email it directly to and reference the title of this submission.