NASA found ice and organic material on Mercury, but was not able to conclude whether there is life on the planet nearest the sun. Despite having a high daytime temperatures, Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, have ice and frozen organic material in the craters at the north pole, NASA scientists said in the journal Science, published on Thursday (29/11).
Telescopes on Earth belongs to the U.S. space agency has been collecting evidence of ice on Mercury for 20 years, but the discovery of organic material is a surprise, the researchers found that using MESSENGER, the first plane circling Mercury.
Both ice and organic material, which is similar to tar or coal, believed to have formed millions of years ago after a comet and asteroid hit the planet.
Unlike NASA’s Mars explorer vehicle, Curiosity, which took the stone and the organic content of the soil to be investigated, MESSENGER fired laser beams, particle count, measure gamma rays and gather other data remotely.
The discovery of ice and organic material was concluded after more than a year based on computer models, laboratory experiments and deduction, rather than direct analysis.
“The explanation that fits all the data is that it is organic material,” says MESSENGER principal scientist Sean Solomon of Columbia University in New York.
Ice on Mercury’s estimated there are at least as deep as 0.5 meters to 19.5 meters. Mercury’s polar ice cover enough area of Washington DC with a depth of 4-5 kilometers.
MESSENGER was launched in 2004 and orbiting Mercury in 1.5 years ago. Solomon said no conclusions despite water. But this latest discovery could explain his early life in the solar system, he said.