Large ice deposits found on planet nearest the sun: Nasa
Published on Nov 30, 2012 6:01 AM
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Scientists on Thursday announced new evidence that Mercury, the planet orbiting nearest the Sun, hosts massive caches of ice and revealed new information on how water reached our solar system's inner planets.
"The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury's polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, DC, would be more than3.2km thick," said Mr David Lawrence, a researcher participating with NASA's mission to study Mercury.
Though much of Mercury is boiling hot, its axis of rotation is nearly parallel to the Sun - which means the poles of the planet are never hit by the Sun's heating rays.
Scientists have long hypothesized these shadowy poles could harbor frozen water and other interesting materials. In 1991, that theory got a boost when a powerful telescope in Puerto Rico detected "radar-bright patches" at the poles, often in spots where a previous mission in the 1970s had found large impact craters.
To continue reading, log in if you are a subscriber
Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!