By Alex DeMetrick

HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — It’s way too hot to handle, but scientists in Maryland are unlocking secrets of the planet Mercury. 

Alex DeMetrick reports one of those secrets might just turn out to be very cool.

It took years for the Messenger spacecraft to travel to the heart of the solar system and lock into orbit around the planet Mercury.  It provided the first high-resolution mapping and analysis of the minerals and chemicals that make up a planet that hits 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s except in some of the deep craters at Mercury’s north and south poles.

“Some of those crater floors have been in shadow for at least a billion years. They act like cold traps.  It’s very possible there’s isolated water ice inside some of these things.  We’re still working to make that definitive,” said Dr. Ralph McNutt, Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

The spacecraft was built at and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Howard County.

Besides the hunt for ice, Mercury’s eccentric orbit around the sun will be studied.

“Maybe in the future, a long time in the future, it might help destabilize the orbits of some of the inner planets, like this one, which would be very bad is anyone is left on this particular piece of real estate,” said McNutt.

Messenger has found elements that should have burned off long ago and vast lava fields, suggesting a massive collision that tore off Mercury’s original crust.

The Messenger will send back information from orbit for one year, although the mission could be extended if needed.

Comments (34)
  1. sean patriot says:

    Waste of MONEY

    1. daveugber says:

      perhaps…exploration and discovery are not at the top of my list of ‘waste of money’ though…i’d say that most wasted money goes into various government ‘help’ agencies and religion…

    2. zsvdkhnorc says:

      “The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space–each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.” –xkcd

    3. Binht says:

      Sean, you probably consider education a waste of money as well.

    4. Barack Mugabe says:

      Just imagine what that trillions dollars p-ssed away in the failed stimu-less could have done for NASA.

  2. ted bladwin says:

    The Obamatrons are funny with their waste of money chant. Like the crackhead poet who wrote the Whitey on the Moon poem (rest his crackhead addicted soul), slamming the US for going to the moon when perfectly respectable crackheads were in need of government checks! Ha. All that space exploration detracts form the real NASA mission, european isladmificaiton.

    1. mike124 says:

      Ted, learn to think coherently (and spell) and then maybe you might get listened to. You’ve missed the entire point of what Gil Scott-Heron was talking about with Whitey on the Moon, which for starters had nothing to do with crackheads. He was simply pointing out that a lot of money was being spent on space travel when there are real needs at home. He wasn’t against space travel per se. Gotta admit, though, that thing about the real NASA mission being European Islamification is pretty funny, even if it makes no sense.

      Gil Scott-Heron made some huge mistakes and he regretted them – no need to gloat.

      1. zsvdkhnorc says:

        Just google ‘nasa islam’ and the top three results should explain the joke. Better to keep your mouth shut and be presumed an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

      2. Libertarian_Thinker says:

        Don’t make me say it but… Gil Scott-Heron was an idiot! A BRILLIANT & BEAUTIFUL musician! But an idiot none the less, IE his victim mentality. Nevertheless Beautiful Fantastic Music! I have and love listening to much of what he did.

  3. Brent says:

    Pearls to swine.

  4. Bill says:

    THIS JUST IN: The found a dangerous amount of fish in the water of Mercury.

  5. pfj says:

    cjildish lede sets new journalism low. teh dumbed sown quality od msm is one issue that never gets attention. pathetic.

  6. dookie says:

    FFS, how is water on mercury GONNA GET ME A JOB?

    1. Barack Mugabe says:

      I get the feeling that even thousands of new McDonalds on Mercury couldn’t get you a job.

  7. Forecheck says:

    Regarding the video, didn’t anybody thell them there’s no sound in space?

  8. tdrag says:

    I think we should send Algore there to find out if it’s true.

  9. Dave Byrne says:

    Not a single dollar was sent into space. Every dollar spent on spacecraft, science, technology, jobs, research, and specialized manufacturing techniques stayed right here on Earth, and most of it in the good old USA. It drove innovation, science and jobs. We don’t need that anymore now do we, now that we’ve outsourced all our high tech to China, Japan, and India. It makes much more sense to keep spending money on keeping unemployment checks coming until the next election cycle.

  10. John Sheridan says:

    Quick, send Al Gore there in a space probe to check it out and tell us if Mercury is experiencing global warming.

  11. Amy says:

    Here’s an idea, how about we take what the Bible says in Genesis chapter one as fact instead of just “a collection of fairy tales written by old men.” The Earth was created in 6 literal days, not millions of years. And no, the other planets that he mentions in the video were not “trial planets.” God put us on Earth specifically. It wasn’t by chance. We didn’t come from some simple cell organism and evolve to the complex species we are today. So yeah, it’s possible that there could be water on several planets other than Earth, but at the end of the day, it means absolutely nothing. Yeah, the planet could support life, but it never has, and never will.

    1. krontekag says:

      Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and ask you to start back on your meds, mkay?

      1. Amy says:

        Psalms 14:1 The fool says in his heart there is no God.

    2. Eddie Moobart says:

      Facts are proven, not just something that you think is true.
      Anyhow, did you drive to church last Sunday? Yeah, that’s called fossil fuel, and it comes from fossils. You know, those dead dinosaurs from millions of years ago? Yeah, I don’t remember readying about those in your fact book.

      1. Amy says:

        Yeah, those fossils wear created by Noah’s flood. Don’t suppose you’ve ever read the book of Job either? Dinosaurs are in the Bible, but the actual word “dinosaur” isn’t in there. Wanna know why? Because the word wasn’t invented until the late 1800s.

      2. Amy says:

        “Messenger has found elements that should have burned off long ago and vast lava fields”… This should be fact enough to prove that the universe isn’t old. If the scientist himself is baffled by finding elements that “should” have burned off long ago, then it’s not as old as carbon dating says it is!

      3. Carl Sagan says:

        Don’t frustrate yourself Eddie. Some folks are in their own little world. Would be interested in knowing why it took 6 days when an omnipotent being should have been able to create whatever they wanted instantly. No, NO! Forget I mentioned it, I don’t want to know.

  12. mike says:

    Maybe we should look for water on Pluto as well, or Alfa Centuri.

  13. Carl Sagan says:

    Enough about Mercury! It’s time to start talking about Uranus. I hear it’s big and gassy. Some of you seem to have your heads there right now.