How the Sun Helps Ice Form on Mercury #SpaceSaturday

Here is a list of things the sun does: makes sand really hot, gives Supergirl her powers, gives us a reason to wear cool sunglasses, helps us tell time when we have a sundial, and helps make ice on mercury. Famously, Venus is has the hottest surface temperature of any planet in our solar system, even though it is not the closest to the sun. Why is that? Here’s some information, via EurekAlert!

As with Earth, asteroids delivered most of Mercury’s water, the scientific consensus holds. But the extreme daytime heat could be combining with the minus 200-degree Celsius cold in nooks of polar craters that never see sunlight to act as a gigantic ice-making chemistry lab, say researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology….

“This is not some strange, out of left field idea. The basic chemical mechanism has been observed dozens of times in studies since the late 1960s,” said Brant Jones, a researcher in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the paper’s first author. “But that was on well-defined surfaces. Applying that chemistry to complicated surfaces like those on a planet is groundbreaking research.”


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