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Are aliens hiding on Mercury? Scientists have made an unexpected discovery

Yulia PoteriankoNews
It is unlikely that there are real humanoids on Mercury, but scientists have found something interesting on the planet

The search for extraterrestrial life is one of the most interesting challenges facing science. And recently, scientists have made a rather unexpected discovery along the way. They found that the north pole of Mercury may have favorable conditions to support some extreme forms of living organisms.

According to Mail Online, scientists at the Institute for Planetary Studies concluded that life may exist in salt glaciers hidden beneath the planet's surface. According to them, similar conditions exist on Earth, and living organisms can be found in similar places.

"This line of thinking makes us think about the possibility of underground regions of Mercury that may be more hospitable than its harsh surface," says Dr. Alexis Rodriguez, lead author of the study.

The Institute's researchers used images from NASA's MESSENGER probe in their work. With their help, they studied the geology of Mercury's north pole. And they found evidence that salt glaciers may have once flowed through the Raditladi and Eminescu craters.

However, these glaciers are not like those on Earth, because they are made of salts, which are composed of volatile compounds such as water, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When Mercury collided with some kind of space rock in the past, the outer layer of basalt rock covering the planet was broken by the collision, allowing these volatile compounds to flow out of the ground and form glaciers.

Since Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, daytime temperatures here reach 430 degrees Celsius. This means that these volatile chemicals have since evaporated.

Nevertheless, the scientists managed to find the location of the relevant glaciers. They searched for them by certain features inherent in the Earth's glaciers. "Our models strongly suggest that salt flows likely formed these glaciers and that once they were deposited, they stored volatiles for more than 1 billion years," said Dr. Rodriguez.

This means that there is probably a huge layer of salt beneath Mercury's surface, reliably protected from the sun's heat. It is filled with volatile compounds that can support life. And such an environment, according to Rodriguez, is capable of supporting life in terrestrial conditions. Similar conditions can be found, for example, in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Until now, researchers believed that Mercury was not capable of supporting any life at all, in part because of huge daily temperature fluctuations, the lack of an atmosphere, and the constant bombardment by solar radiation. Chances for the development of life could only be in the layers hidden beneath the planet's surface.

There, conditions similar to those in a potentially habitable zone are created. It is in this zone that the Earth is located. "This groundbreaking discovery of Mercury's ices expands our understanding of the environmental parameters that can support life, adding a vital dimension to our astrobiology research that also addresses the potential habitability of exoplanets like Mercury," Dr. Rodriguez explained.

It is known that Mercury's craters are dotted with strange pits and depressions, which, according to study co-author Deborah Domingue, "have long baffled planetary scientists." The results of the new work suggest that these pits could have formed when salt glaciers evaporated under the influence of intense heat on Mercury, leaving cavities instead.

However, it remains a mystery how this volatile-rich layer was formed in the first place. Dr. Rodriguez suggests that its formation could have been influenced by the fall of a hot primary atmosphere to the planet's surface. Another solution, proposed by Dr. Domine, is that dense salty vapor flows from the planet's volcanic interior and temporarily settles in puddles before evaporating.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA told about the coldest place in the Universe, which scientists managed to find.

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