• News Feeds
Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Saturday, 1 December 2012

Mercury: Conditions for life?

Advertisement

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.


Get in touch with Today via email , Twitter or Facebook or text us on 84844.

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific