You’ll love the stunning reason why Mercury is covered in diamonds

As the closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing planets in the solar system. Compared to our understanding of the Moon and Mars, not much is known about this hostile planet.

Mercury’s crust is mostly in the form of graphite, a pure form of carbon that can turn into diamonds after being hit by asteroids. The planet is full of craters from meteoroids and comets that have hit it over the years.

But now researchers seem to have more claims about Mercury’s surface. New research previewed this month at Lunar and Planetary Science Conference suggests that Mercury’s crust may contain 16 quadrillion tons of diamonds.

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“The pressure wave from asteroids or comets hitting the surface at tens of kilometers per second could turn this graphite into diamonds,” says Kevin Cannon, a geologist at the Colorado School of Mines, who presented his latest findings at the conference. conference.

“You could have a significant amount of diamonds near the surface.”

Do these diamonds look like what we suppose? The answer is most likely no: “They probably have nothing to do with the big, clear gemstones that we cut and shape into jewelry,” Cannon said. “A better comparison is small, turbid diamonds used in industry as abrasives, probably in a disordered mixture with graphite and other forms of carbon.”

The only answer to these conclusions might be, “I wish Mercury wasn’t so difficult to explore.”

Why is Mercury hard to explore?

We human beings have not yet arrived at Mercury. Only NASA’s MESSENGER and Mariner 10 missions have made accurate observations of the planet and expanded our horizons around the orbiter closest to the Sun.

In addition to its extremely high level of gravity, the obstacle to the exploration of Mercury by man is more due to its distance from Earth. Needless to mention its extremely variable temperature which fluctuates between 801°F and −279°F. Mercury’s conditions are far too extreme for humans to physically explore.

So, eyes are on the new mission called BepiColombo by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at Mercury. The mission is expected to investigate the planet after arriving in December 2025.

After NASA’s MESSENGER, which mapped the planet from 2008 to 2015, the BepiColombo mission is very promising in terms of mineral exploration. “In theory, the next BepiColombo mission could detect diamonds in surface materials,” Cannon said. “It has complementary instruments to NASA’s MESSENGER mission, and they’re much better at detecting certain minerals like this.”

Who knows? Perhaps these claims can give scientists a new perspective on Mercury that may have been overlooked until now.

Sarah C. Figueiredo