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MESSENGER confirms presence of water ice on Mercury
Posted: Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 6:38 AM ET (1138 GMT)
MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury (JHUAPL) Data from several instruments on a NASA spacecraft have allowed scientists to confirm the presence of water ice in craters near the poles of Mercury. In papers published in the journal Science this week, scientists said that data from the spacecraft's neutron spectrometer confirmed the presence of hydrogen-rich deposits, likely water ice, in permanently-shadowed craters near the planet's poles. Those areas correspond with radar-bright features in those craters, first detected by ground-based radar observations two decades ago. Near-infrared imagery also detected traces of organic compounds, likely left behind by the comet and asteroid impacts that deposited the ice, covering the ice. Scientists estimate the shadowed regions of craters, which remain cold enough to keep ice because they're always out of view of the Sun, could harbor between 100 billion and one trillion tons of ice.
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