Simulation shows how water landed on Mercury

Mercury is the closest to the sun of all the planets in our solar system. It’s very hot out there, however, there must be water. But how did the water molecules get there?

One theory is that the water originated locally. Either it was already present in the rocks when the planet formed, or it was created by the interactions of particles on the surface, for example, solar radiation. But another theory says no, water may have been brought to the planet. They set out to work with the latter theory in this study.

Possible sources of water are asteroids, comets, and space dust. To see if it was actually possible for all of the water on Mercury to end up via this route, the researchers ran simulations. Calculated: How do these celestial bodies move through the solar system? How many times did they hit Mercury? And how much water can they bring with them?

The simulations showed that it should indeed be possible to bring all the water to the planet in this way. However, this does not exclude the possibility that this part originated locally.

Knowing how water moves in our solar system and the crazy places it can all end up can also help if we look a lot further away at the exoplanets. For example, this discovery may one day help us determine whether a distant planet might also contain water (and thus possibly life).

In this audio you can hear researcher Katerina Frantseva (SRON / RUG). Read more: Enough space dust, asteroids and comets for all the water on Mercury

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Katerina Frantseva from Ukraine. She is also part of a network of Ukrainian volunteers in the Dutch academic world who support their homeland. If you want to help her with that, you can here

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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