NASA probe details geologic makeup of planet Mercury

March 17, 2015 9:45 PM

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While Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it hosts the thinnest of atmospheres; most of its gases are burned off by the sun's relentless rays. Unable to trap heat, the portions of Mercury's surface that don't see the sun (like the deep pits of polar craters) feature extremely low temperatures, enabling the existence of frozen water.

"We're seeing into these craters that don't see the sun, at higher resolution than was ever possible before," Nancy Chabot, the instrument scientist for Messenger's Mercury Dual Imaging System, told attendees on Monday at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference.

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