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Mercury: Conditions for life?

Water has been discovered on Mercury. Even though it is the second hottest planet in the solar system, Nasa's Messenger spacecraft has found evidence not only of water but also organic molecules near its poles. Professor Andrew Coates, deputy director of the Solar System at Mullard Space Science Laboratory spoke to Today's presenter, Sarah Montague.

He explained: "It is 430 degrees on Mercury, hot enough to melt lead. Water has come from the comets hitting Mercury over the years. There is a lot of water - between 20 billion and a trillion tons of it." He added, "For life to exist, you need carbon, water, a source of heat and you need time for life to develop. We are sure those conditions are not on Mercury, but there could be elsewhere".

Professor Coates accepted that there is evident to suggest "comets bought water and some of these ingredients to Earth" in a similar fashion.

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