03 December 2012
Posted in Our Planet, Our Universe
With millions of galaxies and planets throughout the universe, do you believe in the possibility of life elsewhere?
NASA researchers recently discovered large amounts of water ice and possible organic compounds on Mercury, suggesting the raw materials necessary for life may be more common than scientists believed.
NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft announced on Nov. 29, 2012 that Mercury contains more than 100 billion tons of water ice near its poles. In the dark, shadowy areas of the planet, temperatures plummet to minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit (188 degrees Celsius), where much of its ice is found. But Messenger suggests even more water ice can be found in slightly warmer areas.
In those warmer areas of the closest planet to the sun, a strange, dark material has been discovered. It is said to act as an insulator for the ice. According to the data, the dark material is a mixture of complex organic compounds – the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. Scientist David Paige of UCLA suggests the organic material may be the same type of organic material that ultimately gave rise to life on Earth.
Researchers believe Mercury acquired the large amount of water it possesses in the same way Earth did, through comet impacts and asteroid strikes.
Because of Mercury’s close proximity to the sun, the planet doesn’t seem to be a good host for living entities. But finding ice and organics on another planet within our solar system lays a foundation for more discovery of how life took root on our planet.