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Can Mercury Support Life?

can-mercury-support-life

ANSWER:

Mercury can NOT support life as we know it.

More Info: Scientists tend to agree that Mercury has never contained life and the conditions on Mercury would not support life as we know it because of the extreme temperatures ranging from -200 to 800 degrees Celsius.  However, Mercury contains at least some of the factors necessary for life.

Mercury’s Surface

Mercury’s axis has a tilt of only about one degree, so sunlight does not reach inside deep craters.  Due to the thin atmosphere, heat is not easily retained on the surface.  Mercury has ice water inside these deep craters at extremely cold temperatures, but no liquid water.  The large quantity of water ice, at least 100 billion tons, is believed to come from meteors that landed on the surface of Mercury.

Mercury’s Atmosphere

The atmosphere contains oxygen, but not in sufficient quantities to support life.  Most of Mercury’s thin atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide.  The atmosphere offers little protection from meteors and the surface of Mercury is covered with craters.  If life ever existed on Mercury, it would have suffered many extinction events from these impacts, similar to Earth’s dinosaur extinction.

Factors Necessary for Life

In addition to water ice, scientists believe Mercury’s surface contains organic material, which probably came from comets and meteors.  While the water and organic material is unlikely to ever lead to life on Mercury, it suggests that the elements necessary for life may be present elsewhere in the solar system as well.

 

Resources

“Life on Mercury.” Universe Today — Space and astronomy news. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.  http://www.universetoday.com/22097/life-on-mercury/

“Life on Mercury? Scientists claim discovery of water on ‘the Swift Planet’.” RT. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.  http://rt.com/news/scientists-mercury-water-claim-965/

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