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Thursday, November 29, 2012

NASA Discovers Water on Mercury

Posted by on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

There's a live press conference you can watch on the Huffington Post right now in which NASA scientists are discussing their findings. It seems that the polar regions of Mercury seem to have a lot of water, and possibly organic matter.

UPDATE 11:35 AM: NASA is now taking questions directly from the public via social media. You can find more information about this discovery at

Temperatures on Mercury can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius), but around the north pole, in areas permanently shielded from the sun's heat, NASA's Messenger spacecraft found a mix of frozen water and possible organic materials.

The first question was about what this means for the possibility of some sort of life on Mercury. The scientist answering the question says "the more we learn about the solar system, we find it's a soggy place." "Let me be clear that no one is saying that there is life on Mercury," a killjoy explains, but he says "Mercury is becoming" a site for "astro-biological interest" and "in terms of the book of life, there are some early chapters" and "Mercury is helping us answer those questions" in those early chapters.


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Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 30, 2012 at 5:02 AM · Report this
Posted by six shooter on November 29, 2012 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Posted by Spindles on November 29, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Kinison 9
Ideal if we ever want to establish a base on that planet 200 years from now. Water = Fuel. Not exactly sure what humans would do on that planet, but now its a workable possibility.
Posted by Kinison on November 29, 2012 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Philly 8
Black hole spouting water? Is this a joke? Link please.
Posted by Philly on November 29, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 7
@3 If it's frozen at one spot, and 800F elsewhere, there has to be a zone in between the two. Maybe even a large wet zone.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on November 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
I for one welcome our water-based Mercurial Zombie Overlords.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 29, 2012 at 12:10 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 5
The fact they found a black hole spouting water removed any doubts I had about it being everywhere in the universe. I have concluded the universe is structured for life.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
And by "organic matter" they mean carbon and hydrogen based-compounds. Petroleum is organic matter, and so is methane and alcohol, but none of those things are alive.

However, here on Planet Earth, all those things are derived from organisms, former or living. It takes photosynthetic cells to put carbon structures together. (I don't know enough about the general metabolism of bacteria living deep underground or underwater, shielded from the reach of solar radiation.) So who knows, you know? Bacteria have been found in more extreme environments than Mercury's polar regions, as described in the post.

The more dispatches I hear from the field of astrobiology, the more doubtful I grow of Earth's exclusive claim to life.
Posted by floater on November 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Frozen water seems common.. mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's moon.

The big find would be liquid water... even better if we find liquid salt water.…
Posted by six shooter on November 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
Andy Niable 2
"I thought there was mercury in the fish now." ~The late Emily Litella
Posted by Andy Niable on November 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 1
Ugh. Mercury is way too touristy, though.
Posted by MacCrocodile on November 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this

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