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Water On Mercury: Images From Nasa's Messenger Probe Shows 'Ice' At Planet's Poles

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MERCURY
The areas that reflect radar correlate with those that live in permanent shadow, suggesting the presence of ice |

Fresh Evidence has emerged that indicates the existence of water on Mercury.

Despite the planet’s blistering surface temperatures of more than 400 degrees, a Nasa satellite has discovered so-called “cold traps” at the planet’s poles, areas that live permanently in shadow.


The Messenger probe mapping Mercury

According to data from the space agency’s Messenger probe, radar signals are reflected from the “cold traps”, a characteristic indicative of ice.

Messenger, launched in 2004, is only on the second probe to map the sun-scorched planet, performing several flybys since 2008.


Mercury is the planet closest to the sun

According to Dr Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Messenger images “show that all the radar-bright features near Mercury's south pole are located in areas of permanent shadow.

"Near Mercury's north pole such deposits are also seen only in shadowed regions, results consistent with the water-ice hypothesis."

However, the scientist added that the images were not conclusive and that further research was necessary.

The findings were announced at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.


An image of Mercury taken by Messenger in 2008

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Mercury is closest to the sun but may have water ice