Although Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, its ice volume is staggering, according tomedia. Now, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have come up with an explanation for how heat plays an important role in the game. It is understood that most of Mercury is as hot as hell, daytime temperatures can reach 427 degrees Celsius, but because there is no atmosphere to emit heat, the poles are still very cold, some deep pits of the ground also do not see the sun.
There, temperatures can be as low as -170degrees, which is the perfect condition for ice formation.
Observations and other calculations from the probe show that Mercury has a large amount of sediment at both poles. How it first got there remains a mystery, but now the Georgia Institute of Technology team has come up with at least some explanation.
The team says charged particles from the sun hit Mercury’s surface and then formed a mineral called hydroxyl (OH) in the soil. After that, intense heat helps release and activate these minerals, which form water molecules and hydrogen when they collide.
Molecular model of the chemical reaction that produces water ice on Mercury
These water molecules float on Mercury. Some will inevitably be broken down again by extreme sunlight, but some molecules will settle in polar craters, where the cold conditions are ready to make them ice-
“We assume that the total amount of ice will be 10 trillion kilograms over a period of about 3 million years,” said Brant Jones, lead author of the study. This process can easily account for 10% of Mercury’s ice. “
As for the rest of the ice, they assume it was reached by an asteroid impact. This does not necessarily mean that the asteroid itself must carry a lot of water — because the force of the impact itself can trigger the chemical reaction that produces the material.
The study was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.