Despite searing daytime temperatures, Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, has ice and frozen organic materials inside permanently shadowed craters
in its north pole, NASA scientists said on Thursday.
Earth-based telescopes have been compiling evidence for ice on Mercury for 20 years, but the finding of organics was a surprise, say researchers with
NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, the first probe to orbit Mercury.
Both ice and organic materials, which are similar to tar or coal, were believed to have been delivered millions of years ago by comets and asteroids
crashing into the planet.
The discoveries of ice and organics, painstakingly pieced together for more than a year, are based on computer models, laboratory experiments and
deduction, not direct analysis.
29-11-2012 by winterkill because: additions