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Planet closest to sun harbors ice, scientists say

By Marcia Dunn

AP Aerospace Writer

LAST UPDATED: 09:44 a.m. HST, Nov 29, 2012

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. » A NASA spacecraft has confirmed there's ice at Mercury's north pole.

Scientists announced today that the orbiting probe, Messenger, has found evidence of frozen water, even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. The ice is located in the permanently shadowed region of Mercury's north pole. It's thought to be at least one-and-a-half feet deep — and possibly as much as 65 feet deep.

Scientists say it's likely Mercury's south pole also has ice, though there are no data to support it. Messenger orbits much closer to the north pole than the south.

Radar measurements, for years, have suggested the presence of ice. Now scientists know for a fact.

Messenger is the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. It was launched in 2004.

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Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Fascinating. Much of the rest of the planet is undoubtedly very hot, but with this ice it makes you wonder what about that sliver of area where the ice meets the hot area--- hospitable perhaps???
on November 29,2012 | 09:00AM
Morimoto wrote:
That's exactly what I was thinking. There might be water there, if only a small amount. But where there's water there's a possiblity for life. If Earth is the only place in the universe where there's life or if there's life elsewhere, either way it's pretty mindboggling when you think of it.
on November 29,2012 | 10:02AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Also makes me think, that on earth, any slight change in tilt of the planet will have a significant change in the climate. Perhaps that is the cause of the changing climate and not the man made stuff.
on November 29,2012 | 12:07PM
Morimoto wrote:
Perhaps, but I'm sure scientists have studied that too. I mean I think they'd be able to tell if the earth were tilting and contributing to climate change. I'm pretty sure it's the man made changes that are the primary reason for climate change. There's just too much evidence to say otherwise.
on November 29,2012 | 12:40PM
allie wrote:
on November 29,2012 | 09:03AM
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