It is hard to imagine that there is ice on Mercury because of its temperature of 400 degrees Celsius. But, a recent study suggests otherwise. As with our planet, space objects brought most of Mercury’s water, the scientific research indicates.
The extreme daytime heat, however, could be mixing with the minus 200 degrees Celsius. Such a temperature would encounter polar craters that never witness sunlight to perform as a massive ice-producing chemistry lab, according to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s approach.
The recent research models some advanced situations on Mercury. Solar winds that hit the planet with charged particles have been modeled, for example. The simulation indicates a possible way for water to arise and gather as ice on a planet full of all the needed elements.
There might be ice on Mercury
According to Brant Jones, a researcher from Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, such an underlying chemical mechanism has been detected many times in researches since the late 1960s.
Minerals in Mercury’s soil has something known as hydroxyl groups (OH). They’re produced mostly by the protons. In the recent model, the extreme heat helps remove the OH groups that boost up them to collide with each other to develop water molecules and hydrogen.
These molecules can liftoff from the ground and drift away. But, some water molecules are split by sunlight or arise far above the planet’s land. Others, on the other hand, reach Mercury’s poles in continuous shadows of craters that secure the ice from the Sun. Mercury doesn’t possess an atmosphere and hence no air that would conduct heat, so the molecules become elements of the permanent glacial ice comprised in the shadows.
“The total amount that we postulate that would become ice is 1013 kilograms over a period of about 3 million years. The process could easily account for up to 10 % of Mercury’s total ice,” explained Jones.