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Published:December 2nd, 2012 11:57 EST
NASA`s Messenger Space Craft Unlocks the Long Awaited Mystery of Mercury

NASA`s Messenger Space Craft Unlocks the Long Awaited Mystery of Mercury

By Ron G Anselm


"Finding Hidden treasure on planets other than ours is the same as discovering talents you never knew you had." (Anselm, R., 2012)

This is exactly what NASA is seeking out and searching for when it comes to exploring space. NASA is like the `Barney Fife` of space. They are the `Keystone Cops` of finding new and hidden treasure`s when they are on their routine journeys to try to broaden our knowledge of the universe and our planets that share the same neighborhood as we do.

Recently, a NASA spacecraft on a mission to explore Mercury discovered that a long-held hypothesis of this mystery planet harboring water ice and other frozen-volatile materials came to light when NASA`s spacecraft confirmed this information. The Mercury Surface Space Environment Geochemistry and Ranging (Messenger) spacecraft discovered that Mercury does have the existence of water ice and other frozen materials lurking in and around it shadowed polar craters.

Since March 2011 the Messenger spacecraft has been studying Mercury and many details of this out of the ordinary planet. Like Mars, NASA is studying and gathering information of how inner planets including Earth acquired their water and other types of building blocks that support life.

To me, NASA looks like they are exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and civilians and boldly going where no space exploration has gone before and that is to try to find a planet that is similar to ours that can maybe one day support our life and the ingredients we need for survival for us to have a secondary planet to relocate to if we ever destroy Earth with all the man-made disasters like global warming, destroying our environments, etc.

The new data is gathered about Mercury is rather surprising to NASA scientists and David Lawrence who is a Messenger scientist commented on this by saying, "The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury`s polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, D.C., would be more than 2 miles thick," (Lawrence, D.)

With the discovery of water ice on Mercury and we all know that water is the main element and resource humans need to survive would place Mercury right behind Mars for a possible planet we could maybe survive on.

Spacecraft instruments completed the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury`s North Pole, made the first measurements of the reflectivity of Mercury`s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths, and enabled the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury`s north Polar Regions (

To put this discovery and concept into an easy to understand perspective, if you were to look at the proximity of Mercury to the sun your first thought would be, "How in the heck is their ice on this relatively hot planet?" Good thought but the reasoning is, the tilt of Mercury`s rotational axis is less than one degree and as a result there are pockets at the planet`s poles that never see sunlight.

So, it would be like having an old oak tree that blankets your front-yard like an army of fluffy, cotton ball looking clouds; there would always be points around the tree that had no sunlight shining through the old leaves and other points where there would be sunlight as abundant as salt is in the sea. The places that had no sunlight ever would be cooler than the places that lots of sunlight. The difference is in space the temperatures are of an extreme nature when it comes to cold and hot, so the temperatures that loom over Mercury shadowed polar caps would freeze anything they drifted in upon.

Scientist have always suspected the Mercury did have polar ice on it but back in those days the technology to collect data and information to support suspected theories were not as good as it is today, so with the new technology scientist have confirmed this thought to be true theory.

The idea received a boost in 1991 when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected radar-bright patches at Mercury`s poles. Many of these patches corresponded to the locations of large impact craters mapped by NASA`s Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s. However, because Mariner saw less than 50 percent of the planet, planetary scientists lacked a complete diagram of the poles to compare with the radar images. (

So, the reasoning was that the technology to confirm sightings and information was not as good as today and back in 1991 when the radar-bright patches were discovered scientist began to look at the brightness as being ice or water and became curious as to what really were the mysterious bight patches that blinded their eye as they peered at Mercury through the lens of their telescopes or their computer did and then started thinking about a way to be able to confirm this information in which they did years later.

With the technology of space exploration becoming what it is today they came up with the way of confirming this hypothesis by sending the Space Messenger to go out and find out this information along with other data which the Messenger found other details about the water-ice polar caps on Mercury and some in-depth details of the estimations of the newly discovered water-ice.

David Lawrence went on to comment on this by saying, "We estimate from our neutron measurements the water ice lies beneath a layer that has much less hydrogen. The surface layer is between 10 and 20 centimeters which is 4" 8 inches thick." (Lawrence, D.)

Gregory Neumann of NASA`s Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Maryland chimed in on additional comments on this by saying, "Nobody had seen these dark regions on Mercury before, so they were mysterious at first." (Neumann, G.)

With this comment by Neumann, scientist could have substituted reading a good mystery novel with the mysterious dark regions that harbor polar ice-water because as in the same as reading a good mystery the answer to the mystery is not revealed right away and takes time to lead up to what the mystery really is or could be. As in this case scientist saw these bright patches in Mercury`s dark regions and could not find the answer at that time to satisfy the mystery until now when Messenger solved the case and gave us the answer.

David Page of the University of California at Los Angeles also commented on this by stating, "The dark material is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids, the same objects that likely delivered water to the innermost planet."  (Page, D.)

With this comment by David Page, Mercury would then be like a catcher`s glove picking off every fastball that zoomed its way as Mercury picked off every comet, asteroid and other object that tailed their way into the water-iced planet`s atmosphere and those objects that impacted the surface of Mercury`s Polar ice-caps became the culprit f delivering the water-ice to the surface.

Sean Solomon of Columbia University`s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York also confirmed what I mentioned earlier in this article by saying, "For more than 20 years, the jury has been deliberating whether the planet closest to the sun hosts abundant water ice in its permanently shadowed polar regions, MESSENGER now has supplied a unanimous affirmative verdict." (Solomon, S.)

And that it has, after over two decades of scientist being as curious as a cat looking through the glass of a fish tank at the little gold fish looking back at the cat, scientist now can say that the curiosity has turned to fact and that Mercury could very well be a candidate in the pool of planet that maybe one day human could survive in that atmosphere but in other thoughts, the presence of water-ice could be a sign that Mercury may harbor life other than ours since water is the main element in supporting all forms of life.

Scientists seem to have found their hidden talents when it comes to discovering not only the mysteries in space but when it comes to talents they may never knew they had or could figure out ways to finding and unlocking what those same scientists are expected to be able to do and that is to figure out the mysteries in science that leave the average person scratching their head and looking toward the professionals to solve those questions " the professionals being the scientists that are the heroes of solving those same mysteries and providing answers to the unknown questions.



As many of you already know if you are an avid reader of my articles my next book for now titled, "Our Grand Ol` National Past Time" is currently in the publishing process at Tate publishing. For those of you who are new to reading my articles, keep your eye out for the release date of my next book on the complete game and history of Major League baseball. It is not just for the baseball and sports fan but for everyone who loves to read. I will let you know the release date of it when I know from Tate Publishing.

   NASA Finds Evidence of Water Ice on Mercury?