Friday, November 30, 2012

Mercury Stunner

Scientists using data from the Messenger spacecraft orbiting Mercury have discovered huge amounts of water ice in permanently shadowed areas near the planet's poles.  Some of that ice simply sits on the surface under Mercury's tenuous atmosphere.   A lot of it is just below the surface, and some of that is under what may be something like a mat of organic compounds.  Yes, the building blocks of life-- on Mercury-- and in association with water ice.

Broadly speaking, there seems to be few more unlikely places in the universe to find water ice and organic compounds than the surface of Mercury-- yet there they are.  The case for life beyond Earth gets stronger and stronger.

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