The second hottest planet in the Solar system, Mercury, actually does have water.
With surface temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius) on the sunny side, and -280 °F (−173 °C) in the shade, you might think that water wouldn’t survive.
This is why NASA’s confirmation of water on Mercury is so intriguing. This may help scientists figure out how water is deposited on planets. The fact that the water was found in Prokofiev’s crater gives support to the theory that comet/asteroid impacts are responsible for water on the planets.
Although water was theorized to be on Mercury, it wasn’t until the Messenger probe started searching in 2011 to show that there are probably several billion metric tons of water ice near Mercury’s north pole.
So now the question is: How old is the water? The images indicate that Mercury’s polar ice deposits were either delivered to the planet recently or are regularly restored at the surface through an ongoing process. That will tell scientist a lot about planet formation and the capability of supporting life (as we know it).
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +