A Snowball does have a chance in Hell after all then?
Space boffins reviewing data from a probe craft orbiting Mercury, innermost planet of the solar system, say they have seen signs of glaciers lurking within shadowed craters at the poles. The planet Mercury as seen from the MESSENGER probe. Credit: NASA/UCSB Gad, it's a barren, heavily cratered desert out there. Except for …
Once upon a time they named space missions to be mythic (Mercury the swift messenger, Gemini - the twins etc) then they transitioned with Apollo (both mythic and the acronym "America's Program for Orbital and Lunar Landing Operations") and gone further into contorted acronyms ever since.
Why not just name it something and have a separate description rather than a painfully contrived acronym that gives very little understanding...
If yellow dwarves are the remnants of supernovae, the night sky should be like a firework display as the things are rather common.
Other obvious problem:
As supernovae occur when stars have exhausted their hydrogen, been through the helium cycle and are running out of options in heavier fusion cycles, causing collapse, where's the sun got all it's hydrogen from? Does this theory require the involvement of the hydrogen fairies?
Not at all.
The inner planets are denser for two reasons - none of them are massive enough to hold on to hydrogen and helium atmospheres, and secondly because radiation from the Sun has either cooked off, or blown off a large proportion of their volatile elements.
"Other revelations include the fact that Mercury's core is huge as these things go, making up fully 85 per cent of the planet, and that its surface is comparatively flat and featureless compared to the mountainous terrain of Earth or Mars."
Wait a second, thats no pla...... ok, ok, I am leaving already!
Sadly, probably not. Since Mercury has no atmosphere to speak of (any it might once have had would ahve been blasted away by the solar wind eons ago), any ice that gets warm enough to melt would sublime first, and meet the same fate as any other gas there. (The triple point of water, where it transtitions between solid, liquid and gas is at a smidge over 600Pa of pressure, about nine orders of magnitude greater than the surface pressure on Mercury.)
"Until radar observations in 1965 proved otherwise, it was thought that Mercury was tidally locked with the Sun. Instead, it turned out that Mercury has a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, rotating three times for every two revolutions around the Sun; the eccentricity of Mercury's orbit makes this resonance stable. Astronomers originally thought Mercury was tidally locked because whenever it was best placed for observation it was at the same point in its 3:2 resonance, showing the same face, just as it would appear if it were tidally locked."
I'm not disputing that this is a fantastic find for astronauts who like their drinks on the rocks. But I'm more concerned about that black flying thing on the right-hand center of the iconograph. Next to that one crater. It looks like some kind of alien mosquito. What issit? Is the planet small or is the insect big?
First, let me say that the Register scores over these so-called "scientists" on the language front by the most welcome and apposite use of "Gad" in its caption. Compare this with the clumsy reaching and rule-breaking that was required to get the probe's name to spell "MESSENGER" when accronymified. The whole bunch should be horsewhipped.
British Captioneering Journalists:1 American Scientists: Nil
Second: Ice? Really? Someone needs to get these sliderule-toting poindexters a new calendar. April is still a week away.
I noticed this too. It has always irked me that the IUPAC spelling is the American one, not the proper English one, which comes from the Latin, since it was known as an element for a number of centuries before the country of our misspelling cousins even came into existence...
I refer of course to "The Coldest Place", which appears to be set on Pluto, but at the end turns out to be set on the dark side of a tidally locked Mercury, subject to some libration.
When it was discovered that Mercurary was not locked, he thought about re-writing it, but left it alone in the end.
Now we discover there is probably ice on Mercury, so the story might still work anyway.
I wonder if anybody has told Niven yet?
I'll leave my coat - need to freeze to sub-zero extra fast to achieve a superconducting brain.
"MDIS images show that all the radar-bright features near Mercury's south pole are located in areas of permanent shadow, and near Mercury's north pole such deposits are also seen only in shadowed regions, results consistent with the water-ice hypothesis."
Do they have any spectral data? For all we know this could be something with a higher melting point (and density) than water that has condensed in these shadows.
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