Source
Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.


Mercury scans The yellow areas in the image above show where Mercury's craters may be hiding ice. (NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington / National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory)

Ice Found on Mercury

Scientists discover frozen water on the planet closest to the sun

By Tyrus Cukavac | December 3 , 2012
<p>Messenger was launched in 2004 and entered Mercury’s orbit in 2011. (NASA) </p>

Messenger was launched in 2004 and entered Mercury’s orbit in 2011. (NASA)

In 2004, U.S. government scientists launched the Messenger probe to study the planet Mercury. Last week, researchers on the project reported that the unpiloted spacecraft has discovered evidence of ice—and lots of it!

The ice is likely frozen in a block nearly two-and-a-half miles deep. Scientists at the U.S. space agency NASA believe that from 100 billion to 1 trillion tons of frozen water currently exists on Mercury. That would be enough ice to encase the city of Washington, D.C.

ONE SCORCHING PLANET

Mercury is the planet closest to the sun in our solar system. Because of this, the planet’s surface can reach temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit! At those temperatures water would just evaporate, or turn into steam.

However, not all of Mercury is that hot. The planet’s poles (the northernmost and southernmost points on the planet) are pockmarked by deep craters. Some of these are so deep that sunlight never reaches them. As a result, their temperatures are as cold as -370 degrees Fahrenheit. Water there can remain frozen.

David J. Lawrence, a scientist working on the Messenger mission, tells The New York Times, “In these planetary bodies, there are hidden places, as it were, that can have interesting things going on.”

THE HISTORY OF LIFE

In some of the slightly warmer craters, scientists have found ice buried beneath an unusual dark material. They believe this material is made of organic compounds. These chemicals contain the element carbon and are the building blocks of life.

“This organic material may be the same type of organic material that ultimately gave rise to life on Earth,” says David Paige, another scientist with the mission.

Scientists believe that water and these organic compounds are the key ingredients in the formation of living things. The discovery of these compounds on Mercury suggests that they may exist on other nearby planets also. Additionally, the ice found on Mercury may offer a clue as to how life on our own planet began.

“That’s not say to say that we expect to find any life-forms [on Mercury],” says Sean Solomon, the principal investigator of the Messenger mission. “But in terms of the book of life, there are some early chapters, and Mercury may indeed inform us about what’s in those chapters.”

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Lexile® Leveled Content Area Library, Interest Level: Intermediate, Levels 700–799

    Lexile® Leveled Content Area Library, Interest Level: Intermediate, Levels 700–799

    by various

    Increase the Informational Text in your classroom with this valuable collection designed to meet interests across all Lexile® measures.

    Organized by Lexile, this 20-book collection contains age-appropriate content-area trade books that students at different levels can read successfully and enjoy. This collection features high-interest science and social studies titles.


    See below for complete list of titles. Appropriate titles of equal value may be substituted if any of the listed titles are unavailable at shipping time.

    Title list:
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Butterflies
    • The Camping Trip That Changed America
    • The Congress of the United States
    • Dinosaur Detectives
    • First Encyclopedia of Science
    • Honest Abe's Guide to Presidential Elections
    • Hydrology: The Study of Water
    • In Their Own Words: Paul Revere
    • Money Madness
    • The Moon
    • Nature's Children: Pandas
    • Oceanography: The Study of Oceans
    • Poison!
    • Queen of the Track
    • So You Want to Be President?
    • Stop Bullying
    • The Sun
    • True Tales of Animal Heroes
    • When Marian Sang

    $89.00 You save: 33%
    Paperback Book Collection | Grades 3-5
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Lexile® Leveled Content Area Library, Interest Level: Intermediate, Levels 700–799
    Grades 3-5 $89.00
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Grade 6, 7 Levels T–Z

    Guided Reading Content Areas: Grade 6, 7 Levels T–Z

    Strong reading skills are vital to every aspect of children’s education, and their reading abilities will affect their future achievement in science, social studies, and math. Guided Reading Content Areas helps you develop content-area knowledge while building reading skills, and provides access to a broad and exciting array of authentic texts.

    The program Features:
    • Titles aligned to content area standards in: Science–45%, Social Studies–40%, and Mathematics–15%.
    • Carefully leveled books that give students access to critical knowledge.
    • Lesson plans that develop important skills for reading informational text.
    • A Teacher's Guide co-authored by
    Dr. Gay Su Pinnell and Dr. Irene Fountas.

    Set Includes:
    • 992356 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level T (60 Books)
    • 992357 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level U (60 Books)
    • 992359 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level V (60 Books)
    • 992360 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level W (60 Books)
    • 992361 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level X (60 Books)
    • 992362 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level Y (60 Books)
    • 992363 Guided Reading Content Areas: Level Z (60 Books)


    Visit the Scholastic Guided Reading Program website for more information.

    $2,249.95 You save: 33%
    Supplementary Collection | Grade 6
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Grade 6, 7 Levels T–Z
    Grade 6 $2,249.95
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S EMAIL ADDRESS

MESSAGE
Here's something interesting from Scholastic.com