back to article Signs of recent tectonic activity found on cooling Mercury

NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) craft has found evidence that Sol's innermost planet is tectonically active. That's kind of a big deal because until now only Earth was known to be tectonically active. And because tectonic activity brings lovely stuff up from a planet's innards, …

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    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "Earth's Missing Geothermal Flux" at FauxScienceSlayer

      Mercury-coated tin-foil hats set to STUN!

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Pointless drivel is beside the point.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "Earth's Missing Geothermal Flux" at FauxScienceSlayer

      Is this even relevant to the article? You really need to start using the Troll icon.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "chemicals that have the potential to eventually form cells"

    Mercury has next to no atmosphere, meaning no protection from UV levels that have to be way above what we get out here.

    I doubt that any cells could survive in that kind of radiation bath.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: "chemicals that have the potential to eventually form cells"

      Geothermal fluids circulating at depth could be warm enough and contain enough of life's little essentials* for life to have evolved without the need for sunlight and an atmosphere.

      * you know carbon, sulfur, phosphorus and a John Lewis account.

    2. Grikath

      Re: "chemicals that have the potential to eventually form cells"

      I doubt very much the question is if Mercury could harbor life or not.

      The question : "how common are (plate) tectonics, actually?" is quite valid. Them being present is, by current knowledge, one of the subclauses for the development of an environment suitable for the emergence and subsequent development of life.

  3. Avatar of They
    Stop

    Confused

    I learned during my degree a ton of stuff about Mercury and its tectonics, how its planetary surface raises and falls with the gravity pull from the sun etc.

    So how come they have come out now and said this? I learned it back in 96 - 99. Are you telling me my Earth Science Professor lied???? We also covered Mars which has since been proven thanks to the laser wielding robot.

    And if memory serves the surface has risen and fallen by miles, so a few "scarps" doesn't equate immediately to tectonic movement but could be gravitational pull.

    1. cray74

      Re: Confused

      So how come they have come out now and said this?

      The referenced NASA article acknowledged the 1978 discovery of large scarps on Mercury and signs of geological activity, but the large scarps were geologically old (billions of years) and interpreted to suggest that the shrinkage had halted. Other signs of geological activity, like Mercurian volcanoes, are also billions of years old.

      The new finding has identified very new (<50MYr), never-seen-before scarps only tens of meters high, which Mariner 10 couldn't have seen.

      planetary surface raises and falls with the gravity pull from the sun

      A bit, sure, but the Sun's tides on Mercury aren't that awesome. I've seen values varying from "17% more than the Moon's tides on Earth" to "17 times." In either case, that's not enough to make water, let alone rock, flex by miles or generate the effects seen on Io.

  4. quxinot Silver badge

    You guys are missing the point, and an incredible possibility that we should certainly explore.

    If this means that it's internally active, and rather convolutedly can develop life.... Then, as the article states, we can expect to see presidential debates there. I vote that we help things along, and ship the canidates there for their next debate!

    There still wouldn't be any intelligent life there, but it's the price that we must pay for science.

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