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NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft data confirms Ice at Mercury’s poles, some covered in Dark Material

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Observations by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen materials in permanently shadowed polar craters.

“The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury’s polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, D.C., would be more than 2 miles thick,” said David Lawrence, a MESSENGER participating scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, MD, and lead author of one of three papers describing the findings in the online edition of Science Express.

Mercury's north pole. Red denotes areas that are in shadow in all images acquired by MESSENGER to date. (The mapping of shadows is still incomplete near the pole.) Yellow shows the locations of bright polar deposits imaged by Earth-based radar. Updated from N. L. Chabot et al., Journal of Geophysical Research, 117. (Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory)

Mercury’s north pole. Red denotes areas that are in shadow in all images acquired by MESSENGER to date. (The mapping of shadows is still incomplete near the pole.) Yellow shows the locations of bright polar deposits imaged by Earth-based radar. Updated from N. L. Chabot et al., Journal of Geophysical Research, 117. (Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory)

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