Mercury may paradoxically use intense heat to make huge amounts of ice

Despite being the closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is home to a surprising amount of ice. Now, researchers at Georgia Tech have put forward an explanation for how at least some of it got there – and it turns out, the heat plays an important role.


Most of Mercury is a broiling hot hell, where daytime temperatures peak at a toasty 427 °C (800 °F). But with no atmosphere to spread the heat around, the poles remain chilly, and the floors of some deep craters never see sunlight. There, temperatures can be as low as -170 °C (-274 °F) – the perfect conditions for ice to form.

And form it does, with spacecraft observations and other calculations showing large deposits at both poles of the planet. How it actually got there in the first place has remained a mystery, but now the Georgia Tech team has proposed at least a partial explanation.



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