Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mercury has water on it, a lot of it

It seems like the Messenger spacecraft that has been sent to Mercury has found something interesting on it, water, a lot of water. 100 billion tons has been discovered by the orbiting probe along with organic materials permanently locked away in shadows of craters on the planet closest to our sun.
wired reports:

"For the first time, scientists have confirmed that the planet Mercury holds at least 100 billion tons of water ice as well as organic material in permanently shadowed craters at its north pole.

The findings come from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, which has been in orbit around the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet since 2011. Researchers have suspected that ice could exist in such craters since 1992, when Earth-based radar measurements found bright areas at the planet’s polar regions. Craters in this area cast long shadows, which prevent any sunlight from reaching their floors.

Though alternative explanations had been put forward to account for the radar-bright areas, MESSENGER has provided convincing evidence for water ice on the planet closest to our sun, where surface temperatures can sometimes reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The results appeared in three studies Nov. 29 in Science."

looks like this water stuff is everywhere, even in the most unlikely of places.

more here

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