Daytime on Mercury’s equator can break the 800-degree mark, but nonetheless there’s long been speculation that the first planet’s poles might be icy. A new analysis of neutron-spectrometry data returned by the Messenger probe confirms the hypothesis: there’s ice in some polar craters!
When radar detected brightness near Mercury’s poles in 1992, the prevailing theory and hope was that it was H2O, but there are other reflective substances it might have been: lovely white sand deserts, perhaps.
Messenger, the NASA probe that’s been orbiting Mercury for a couple of years now, analyzed neutrons coming from the planet, and noticed that the quantity was lower above the polar bright spots — exactly commensurate with the way water ice absorbs neutrons.
Time to build a Mercury colony.
A Never-before-seen Portion of Mercury
Outlining Messenger’s new coverage
A Newly Imaged Double-Ringed Basin
A High-resolution Look over Mercury’s Northern Horizon
A Newly Pictured Pit-Floor Crater
A Bright Spot in the Latest Imaging
Mercury’s Cratered Surface and the “Paw Print”
Capturing Mercury through Messenger’s Dual Cameras
A Terminator Shot
Young and Wrinkled
A Global Map of Mercury’s Surface
Rembrandt in 3D!
It’s Just a Phase that Mercury’s Going Through
Evidence of Volcanism on Mercury: It’s the Pits
Look Back – Look Ahead
Tip of the Crescent
Mercury’s Geology: A Story with Many Chapters
The Rim of Rembrandt and Neighboring Scarps
Flooding Mercury’s Surface
Approach Mosaic from Mercury Flyby 3
Mercury from Nearly Two Million Miles
Mercury’s Surface Has More Iron + Titanium Than Previously Thought
Evidence of Volcanic Activity on Mercury
Mercury Flyby 3 Reveals a Highly Diminished Sodium Tail
A Color View of the Solar System’s Innermost Planet
Calcium and Magnesium in Mercury’s Exosphere
Modeling the “Seasons” of Mercury’s Tail
Looking in Detail at a Spectacular Double-Ring Basin
The First Simultaneous Observations of Neutral and Ionized Calcium
A Newly Identified Candidate for an Explosive Volcanic Vent on Mercury
Mercury in True and Enhanced Color
A Southern Horizon as Seen during Mercury Flyby 3
The Sun Sets on Rembrandt
Full global map of mercury released
Extensive Smooth Plains on Mercury