SCIENCE: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21
Like Tree10Likes

Thread: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

  1. #1
    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    No.
    Posts
    15,034
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    408

    Default NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

    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. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.

    Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet's poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury's poles.

    The idea received a boost in 1991, when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected unusually radar-bright patches at Mercury's poles, spots that reflected radio waves in the way one would expect if there were water ice. Many of these patches corresponded to the location of large impact craters mapped by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s. But because Mariner saw less than 50 percent of the planet, planetary scientists lacked a complete diagram of the poles to compare with the images.

    MESSENGER's arrival at Mercury last year changed that. Images from the spacecraft's Mercury Dual Imaging System taken in 2011 and earlier this year confirmed that radar-bright features at Mercury's north and south poles are within shadowed regions on Mercury's surface, findings that are consistent with the water-ice hypothesis.

    Now the newest data from MESSENGER strongly indicate that water ice is the major constituent of Mercury's north polar deposits, that ice is exposed at the surface in the coldest of those deposits, but that the ice is buried beneath an unusually dark material across most of the deposits, areas where temperatures are a bit too warm for ice to be stable at the surface itself.

    MESSENGER uses neutron spectroscopy to measure average hydrogen concentrations within Mercury's radar-bright regions. Water-ice concentrations are derived from the hydrogen measurements. "The neutron data indicate that Mercury's radar-bright polar deposits contain, on average, a hydrogen-rich layer more than tens of centimeters thick beneath a surficial layer 10 to 20 centimeters thick that is less rich in hydrogen," writes David Lawrence, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist based at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the lead author of one of the papers. "The buried layer has a hydrogen content consistent with nearly pure water ice."
    Source (I didn't copy the whole article)

    Water is turning out to be pretty common. I'm starting to wonder if there's anywhere in the solar system where it can't be found.
    That's nice.

  2. #2
    Jacen the Robot Floatzel Robo-Floatzel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Sinnoh Region
    Posts
    1,426
    Blog Entries
    2
    Follow Robo-Floatzel On Twitter
    Visit Robo-Floatzel's Youtube Channel

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    I just couldn't believe this, I mean, it's so close to the sun, how could water even exist there in the first place.
    Avatar made by MelNathea on DeviantART
    SEA WEASELS: The group for Buizel and Floatzel fans!

    CLICK MY ROBOT POKEMON ARMY OR ELSE!!!!!!
    My DA account

  3. #3
    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,592
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Mercury doesn't have an atmosphere, so the parts facing the sun are burning hot while the parts facing away are bitter cold. The icebergs (for lack of a better term) are likely in areas inside craters that never see sunlight no matter the rotation of the planet or its position in its orbit around the sun.

    So, we've found ice on Mercury, there's probably some form of water on Venus under that horrendously volatile atmosphere, there's obviously water here on Earth, we've found traces of water/ice on the moon, and there are glacial caps along Mars' poles. I wonder what other rocky planets, planetoids and asteroids within the solar system contain trace amounts of water, ice or steam.
    Tsuness, Misato Katsuragi and DCM like this.

    My real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong. ~ Theon Greyjoy

  4. #4
    Canada's Oshimen Shinobu's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    837
    Blog Entries
    338

    Follow Shinobu on Tumblr

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Whenever I see a new NASA discovery, I feel the need to say, "But I thought NASA was useless without the Space Shuttle program!"

  5. #5
    The Creeping Darkness Tsuness's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Northpoint, Usea
    Posts
    1,370
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Awesome discovery. Turns out water survives in a lot of different environments :D I really doubt being able to find life living on Mercury in the craters, but still interesting discovery none the less.
    Astronomy Club... you know you want to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaname Madoka
    If someone tells me that it’s wrong to hope, I will tell them they’re wrong every time.

  6. #6
    I poke your snoot UnovaCastaway's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    Aspertia City
    Posts
    1,413
    Blog Entries
    66

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Santabomb View Post
    Whenever I see a new NASA discovery, I feel the need to say, "But I thought NASA was useless without the Space Shuttle program!"
    Not true. NASA (and the other space agencies) send robotic spacecraft and develop new technology all the time. They also support private entities sending people into space.

  7. #7
    A Liver Made Fullmetal Misato Katsuragi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    By the banks of the River Charles
    Posts
    3,577
    Blog Entries
    35

    Follow Misato Katsuragi on Tumblr

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by UnovaCastaway View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Santabomb View Post
    Whenever I see a new NASA discovery, I feel the need to say, "But I thought NASA was useless without the Space Shuttle program!"
    Not true. NASA (and the other space agencies) send robotic spacecraft and develop new technology all the time. They also support private entities sending people into space.
    I could be wrong, but I think he was being facetious.

    Per what @Caitlin said, my first thought was how this was possible when Mercury swings between extremely hot and extremely cold, and even with their incredibly long days (about 59 Earth days) that wouldn't give much time for build-up of "abundant" water ice. Then I saw it was within an area that was "permanently shadowed" and I thought, oh, that makes sense.

    I think if there's any chance of finding life it would be more likely in the form of evidence of past life, rather than current life. There might be some archaebacteria or something that can survive in Mercury's extreme conditions but I seriously doubt it.

    In terms of finding it elsewhere, I think the dwarf planets and other trans-Neptunian objects in the Kuiper Belt are strong candidates. After all, Pluto is even partially composed of water ice...
    Last edited by Misato Katsuragi; 1st December 2012 at 06:00 AM.

    Hi, I'm Rose. I love music, alcohol, pointless Internet debates and being a snob about my choices in entertainment. I write a lot. You can read some of my writing at Autostraddle.com, the best site for LBTQ women on the Internet, where I am a staff writer. Or the funhouse that is my tumblr. I also write music sometimes, and post the better fruits of my labors on my SoundCloud.

  8. #8
    The Lone Wolf Duke Org Zen-Aku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Gender
    Genderless
    Location
    ATLANTIS
    Posts
    411
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin View Post
    Mercury doesn't have an atmosphere, so the parts facing the sun are burning hot while the parts facing away are bitter cold. The icebergs (for lack of a better term) are likely in areas inside craters that never see sunlight no matter the rotation of the planet or its position in its orbit around the sun.

    So, we've found ice on Mercury, there's probably some form of water on Venus under that horrendously volatile atmosphere, there's obviously water here on Earth, we've found traces of water/ice on the moon, and there are glacial caps along Mars' poles. I wonder what other rocky planets, planetoids and asteroids within the solar system contain trace amounts of water, ice or steam.
    jupiter's moon europa may have it underneath the crust which is assumed to be just ice.

  9. #9
    Hero of the South Beausoleil's Avatar Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Silicon Hills, Texas
    Posts
    18,277
    Blog Entries
    658
    Add Beausoleil on Facebook
    Follow Beausoleil on Tumblr

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    iirc one of Jupiter's moons is speculated to actually possess liquid water.

  10. #10
    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    No.
    Posts
    15,034
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    408

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Calliope View Post
    iirc one of Jupiter's moons is speculated to actually possess liquid water.
    The Saturn moon Enceladus is known to have liquid water geysers. Europa's crust is made of ice.
    That's nice.

  11. #11
    My Sword Hand Twitches! Owain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Gender
    Genderless
    Location
    Kalos
    Posts
    3,024
    Blog Entries
    67

    Follow Owain on Tumblr

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Called it.

    For kicks, buuuut still, cool.

  12. #12
    Registered User Zweilous's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    389

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Wow, that's such an amazing and surprising discovery, it really does show how prevalent water can be.

  13. #13
    The Lone Wolf Duke Org Zen-Aku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Gender
    Genderless
    Location
    ATLANTIS
    Posts
    411
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zweilous View Post
    Wow, that's such an amazing and surprising discovery, it really does show how prevalent water can be.
    It also shows how little we truly know about the universe and us.

  14. #14
    Because I like Tophats Tophat Dragoneye's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Scandinavia
    Posts
    798
    Blog Entries
    50

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Well, what are we gonna discover next? An entire planet covered in ocean?
    Last edited by Tophat Dragoneye; 2nd December 2012 at 04:49 PM.
    Revolutionaryverse


    Many thanks to Blue Dragon for the signature

    ONE-shot: Forced into Retirement

  15. #15
    I poke your snoot UnovaCastaway's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    Aspertia City
    Posts
    1,413
    Blog Entries
    66

    Default Re: NASA Finds Water on... Mercury?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye View Post
    Well, what are gonna discover next? An entire planet covered in ocean?
    They very well possibly could. New satellites are increasingly able to find smaller and smaller extrasolar planets, and rocky Earth-like places are just waiting out there. (most of the early discovered extrasolar planets are gas giants much bigger than Jupiter)

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •