A probe orbiting Mercury has found more evidence of the existence of water ice at the planet's poles, NASA scientists announced Thursday.
Just don't hold out for life.
Even though there is likely ice on Mercury, it's highly unlikely that even bacterial microbes could survive in the ice, despite recent discoveries that bacteria can survive the bitter cold of subzero Antarctic lakes, says Gregory Neumann, an instrument scientist with NASA's MESSENGER mission. That spacecraft has been orbiting Mercury since 2011.
"My gut feeling about life on Mercury is that it's a resounding no," he says. "The temperatures at which ice is stable in a vacuum is so low, compared to a relatively warm [-10 degrees F] in Antarctica. The chemical processes just don't operate on Mercury. If anything is going on there it's beyond our realm of understanding."
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