Mars is not the only planet making headlines these days.Observations made by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mercury for more than a year and a half, reveals evidence of water ice and possibly even organic matter at the planet’s north pole.
It sounds crazy because Mercury, being the closest planet to the Sun, is usually thought of as being boiling hot — the surface temperature hovers around 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the past, scientists on Earth have seen reflective material at Mercury’s poles that appeared to have the same reflectivity as ice. The radar-bright material appeared to be located in large craters that produced areas of persistent shadow.
In a news conference today, NASA announced compelling evidence that these regions are filled with water ice.
Gregory Neumann and colleagues along with David Lawrence and colleagues suggest that the bright areas represent ice located near the surface of the planet while the dark regions correspond to areas where the ice is covered by a layer of organic-rich material.
The latest findings were published on Thursday, Nov. 29, by the journal Science.
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