Diamonds: The Shimmering Secret of Mercury’s Surface?


The planet closest to us that is Mercury, might have diamonds spread out on its surface. It is quite likely that these diamonds have been created due to the constant bombardment of celestial bodies like meteorites and comets on the surface of Mercury for billions of years. 

The Mercury surface has been the victim of peltering by comets and meteors since the surface shows a crated appearance. Interestingly, some of the computer models suggest that it is quite likely that due to the strikes, the surface of the planet is “flash-baked,” covering at least one-third of the planet’s surface with diamonds. 

Mercury and Diamonds

Kevin Cannon, a planetary scientist, shared the findings on March 10th. Being associated with the Colorado School of Mines, Golden, he presented his findings at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas. 

Diamonds are made up of carbon atoms that make up the lattice of the diamond. These atoms, under extreme pressure and heat, lock together. On the earth, crystallization of diamonds occurs at least 150 km, equivalent to 93 miles under the ground. Following this process, during the volcanic activities that cause eruptions, these gemstones come up to the surface. However, when meteorites strike the surface, they form diamonds as well. Since striking meteorites cause excess heat and pressure, they form diamonds, as stated by Cannon. 

With this theory in mind, Cannon turned his attention to Mercury’s surface. Studies revealed about the surface of Mercury say that the surface comprises graphite fragments. It is a mineral that is made up of carbon. It is being assumed that when Mercury was formed, it consisted of a Magma ocean. And out of the magma, crystals were formed. 

To get into the depth, Cannon made use of computers so that he could model 4.5 billion years of meteor and comet impacts on the crust made of graphite. In the event Mercury was coated 300 meters equivalent to 984 feet thick, due to the bombardment, it would have created about 16 quadrillion tons of diamonds. Cannon believes that due to the impact, many diamonds might have been damaged. 

Diamond deposits not explored.

Mercury is not a friendly planet since it is closest to the sun, with day temperatures recorded at around 426 degrees Celsius and night temperatures being -143 degrees Celsius, as per data from NASA. 

As such, to find out more about the same, the best way to find out is to use space instruments. MESSENGER, which is a space probe belonging to NASA, was used to map Mercury during the period 2008 and 2015, but to no avail because the diamond deposits do not emit infrared wavelengths. As such, experts believe that BepiColombo, which is a joint mission of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ESA or European Space Agency to attain the goal by 2025. 

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