After a week of speculation about what exactly NASA’s Curiosity might have found on Mars, in a blockbuster turn of events today NASA announced that their Messenger probe has discovered organic matter on Mercury of all places! Mercury, being the closest planet to the sun, and thereby the least likely to have had any life, ever, because mostly of the fact that daytime temperatures reach 420°C, enough to prepare a perfectly good French Roast in 35 minutes.
However Messenger has discovered not only ice, made of well, frozen water hidden deep within some craters, but also some dark organic matter. Organic matter could be anything molecular but in this case it’s exciting because it’s the first non-mineral material found on another planet. This could mean many things, remains of actual living organisms, excrement from living organisms or even actual living organisms like lichen or weeds of some kind.
It could also just mean that it’s just some dark dirt that became trapped on the ice when it sublimated. Keep in mind that although as I mention above the daytime temperatures might reach 430°C, nighttime temperatures quickly drop to -170°C due to the very thin atmosphere on Mercury.
With our luck though, it’ll just wind up being another darn Starbucks…