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Polar Ice on Mercury and the Moon: A Brief History (and Future) of Volatiles In the Inner Solar System

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Roughly 20 years ago, the discovery of radar bright features reopened old ideas of polar volatiles on our own Moon. At face value, these airless bodies are quite similar- both have polar shadowed environments that should be capable of harboring water ice. In the intervening decades, earth based radar, and data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Messenger missions have followed up on this discovery with a somewhat surprising result - ice is everywhere we would expect it to be on Mercury but barely detectible on the Moon. 
   Dr. Matthew Siegler was integral in the "rediscovery" that confirmed Mercury's radar features to be water ice and actively applying similar methods to explain the ice, or lack thereof, on the Moon. He describes how detailed thermal models of the orbital evolution of these two bodies may hold the key to their differences.

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