Saturday, December 01, 2012

Water Ice at Mercury's Poles

The MESSENGER spacecraft has sent back evidence that Mercury has keep secrets in the shadowy craters at its poles. MESSENGER used three tests to reveal the evidence of water ice. Using over 10 million laser pulses from MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), MESSENGER has provided scientists with the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury's north polar region, revealing evidence of thermally stable water ice. Scientists have speculated for over 20 years on the possibility that Mercury might have water ice in its shadowed polar regions. MESSENGER has provided evidence that yes, there is water ice hiding away in the shadows of the Sun's closest planet's poles.