The planet closest to the Sun-Mercury may be suitable for the emergence of life. Such an unexpected conclusion was made by specialists from the Institute of Planetary Science, who believe that in this tiny world there is everything necessary for the appearance of microorganisms. At the same time, although the planet is rich in its practically inexhaustible energy reserves, the probability of life on it was considered absurd for a long time. But what happens if the hypothesis of American scientists is true?
Can life arise on Mercury?
Although Mercury is a very inhospitable place for humans, in the thin atmosphere of the planet there are three of the most important components for the emergence of life – water, oxygen and methane, futurism.com claims. In addition, the surface of the planet, completely covered with cracks, may indicate the presence on the planet of volatile substances – elements that are able to quickly transfer from one state to another, as, for example, a liquid makes it, which under the influence of high temperatures and pressure turns into gas. So, if volatile substances are discovered one day on the planet, the bold statement by scientists from the Institute for Planetary Science about the existence of life on Mercury may turn out to be quite plausible.
Volatile substances, such as water, can provide a favorable environment for life below the surface of the planet, even when there are high temperatures outside. Water can also protect local life from solar radiation, which bombards Mercury every second. However, even despite the positive attitudes of scientists, one of the main problems for life on the planet closest to the Sun can be extremely low atmospheric pressure, because of which Mercury is famous not only for its sharp temperature drops from -200 to +430 degrees but also poor protection from the solar wind – the flow of charged particles that destroy the surface layer of this inhospitable world for earthly organisms. But who said that local life must necessarily be like ours?
Although all the hypotheses put forward regarding Mercury at the present time remain merely unconfirmed theories, there is still a chance that a simple life may be hidden in the bowels of a burnt planet. The detection of alien life on the planet closest to the Sun is hindered by the Sun itself: making all our observations difficult, our luminary turns Mercury into one of the most poorly studied planets in the Solar System. Only a couple of missions conducted in the past allowed mankind to get acquainted with the appearance of Mercury landscapes, sending images of a distant planet to Earth. It was the Mariner-10 and Messenger programs that managed to get to these harsh lands that determined the main characteristics of the dwarf planet, providing humanity with data on the temperature, atmosphere and water reserves of Mercury. At the same time, the first attempts were made to detect life on the planet, however, studies conducted in the 20th century showed its complete absence due to unsuitable climatic conditions.
Hope for the discovery of extraterrestrial life in the vicinity of the Sun can give the mission BepiColombo, launched by the European Space Agency in 2018. The arrival of the spacecraft to Mercury should take place in December 2025, 7 years after the official launch of the automatic mission. It is planned that the device will be able to work in Mercury’s orbit for about a year, during this time by studying the internal structure of the planet and analyzing the quality of water ice reserves in the polar regions of this world. If the mission is successful, after a few years the question of the existence of life on Mercury will find its long-awaited answer, with any outcome becoming a sensation in the world of science.