Friday, December 14, 2012

Current Events: NASA Spacecraft Finds New Mercury Water Ice Evidence

I did a current events report on new evidence found that there's water on Mercury.

Check out the full report and video of me practicing below:

NASA Spacecraft Finds New Mercury Water Ice Evidence

NASA's MESSENGER space craft has revealed evidence that there is probably ice in polar craters on Mercury.

A NASA scientist recently said "due to Mercury's low tilt, craters near the poles can remain in year-round shadow and be ridiculously cold."

Scientists have had this hypothesis for decades. In 1991 the idea grew when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico saw bright patches on Mercury's poles, many of them where Mariner 10 had seen craters in the 1970s.

In 2011, and earlier this year, MESSENGER took more pictures and proved that these patches are all inside of craters, which supports the hypothesis that there is ice on Mercury's northern pole.

MESSENGER scientists find bright deposits everywhere on Mercury where it's cold enough for there to be ice. Where it is slightly warmer they find a dark material that is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered by the impacts of comets and asteroids. This is likely how water was delivered to the planet.

A Messenger participating scientist estimated that if all the ice on Mercury was spread over a landscape the size of Washington D.C. it would be about two miles high. This seems like a whole bunch of ice, but imagine all of earth's oceans put on top of the same area and immediately frozen. It would be much higher than two miles! On the other hand I didn't think there could be any water, much less ice, on Mercury!

Here are my other current events reports.