Despite basking in the sun's ﬁery glow, tiny Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system, is probably home to extensive ice ﬁelds. Twenty years ago, radar obser-vations from Earth revealed small, highly reﬂective areas close to Mercury's poles, suggesting the presence of ice. Now, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which has orbited Mercury since March, has conﬁrmed that these radar-bright patches coincide with deep craters near the poles that never receive sunlight. This color-coded photo mosaic of Mercury's south polar region, presented 5 October at a joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, shows these 'freezer' areas as dark blotches.
According to MESSENGER instrument scientist Nancy Chabot of the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Mary-land, one-ﬁfth of the region within 200 kilometers of Mercury's south pole is in permanent shadow. "It's all consistent with there being water ice," she says.
SOURCE : SCIENCE MAGAZINE VOL 334