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Mercury: NASA finds ice on the closest planet to the Sun

Despite Mercury having temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, NASA says it likely has 100 billion to one trillion tons of ice on its surface.

Mercury planetEnlarge
NASA says that it has discovered ice in a crater on Mercury despite temperatures of 800F. (NASA/Courtesy)

NASA announced that it has discovered ice on Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.

Despite Mercury having temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, because the planet has an axial tilt that's close to zero, there are some parts of the planet that never receive direct sunlight.

The New York Times reported that those shaded craters and cavernous places on Mercury were indeed found to harbor lots of ice.

Temperatures in those areas can dip to as cold as minus-370 degrees Fahrenheit. NASA says it's likely Mercury has up to one trillion tons of ice on its surface.

"If you add it all up, you have on the order of 100 billion to 1 trillion metric tons of ice," said David Lawrence of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, reported the Associated Press.

“In these planetary bodies, there are hidden places, as it were, that can have interesting things going on."

The ice is said to be buried underneath the surface material of the planet.

The ice likely landed on Mercury after it was struck by a comet, say researchers, according to GeekSugar.

The new findings were published in three separate papers in the journal Science.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/121129/mercury-nasa-finds-ice-the-closest-planet-the-sun