Home > Uncategorized > MESSENGER discovers ice at Mercury’s poles

MESSENGER discovers ice at Mercury’s poles

NASA’s probe to Mercury has found evidence of water, albeit in solid form, on the planet in the solar system that is closest to the sun.

From an agency announcement:

Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA.

 

The discovery may seem counter-intuitive, given Mercury’s high daytime surface temperatures. Though the thermometer can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit on the side of the planet facing the sun, the planet’s north pole is permanently shielded from the nearby star.

Ice can be visually observed in the region between about the same latitude on Mercury (85 degrees North) as the Tropic of Cancer on Earth (90 degrees North) and the pole. 

The probe has not confirmed evidence of ice at Mercury’s south pole.

MESSENGER, which launched in Aug. 2004, will experience orbital decay by 2015 as its fuel supply runs out. During its close approach to Mercury’s surface it may be possible to make more detailed observations of frozen water on our solar system’s inner-most planet.

ImageMosaic image of ice within craters near Mercury’s north pole courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory.

 

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

coastal traveler

Trust, Faith and Change

Lewis Editorial

Bringing stories to life

Grey World Nomads

Around The World At A Slow Pace

The 70 at 70 Challenge

And so, I turned 70, and a new decade beckons....

The Last Ocean

Protecting the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

eoearthlive

Encyclopedia of Earth on WordPress

Evolutionary Biology

No foresight, no way back

Why? Because Science.

Combating Stupidity Since 2012

Empirical SCOTUS

Viewing the Supreme Court in an entirely new light

Discover

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

%d bloggers like this: