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New Research: Mercury’s Surface is Awash in Diamonds

The planet’s surface could contain 16 quadrillion tons of diamonds
mercury planet diamonds gems
Credit: NASA images / shutterstock.com

Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, has long been considered to be a planet with a hostile environment. Now, new research presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in mid-March in Woodlands, Texas, suggests that Mercury may also be full of that most sought after rocks on Earth – diamonds.

 

According to Kevin Cannon, a geologist at the Colorado School of Mines who presented his latest findings at the conference, Mercury’s crust – which is mostly made up of graphite and is full of craters after meteoroids and comets struck it over the years – could contain 16 quadrillion tons of diamonds.

 

“The pressure wave from asteroids or comets striking the surface at tens of kilometers per second could transform that graphite into diamonds,” Cannon said at the conference, “you could have a significant amount of diamonds near the surface.”

 

space diamonds
Credit: tomertu / shutterstock.com

 

These are not, however, the shiny, blingy objects we’re used to seeing set into our favorite piece of jewelry. According to Cannon, “They’re probably nothing like the big clear gemstones we cut and make into jewelry. A better comparison, he said, would be “the small cloudy diamonds used in industry as abrasives, likely in a messy mixture with graphite and other forms of carbon.”

 

The chance of a space mining company landing on the surface of Mercury anytime soon, however, is extremely low. In addition to having a very high gravity level, its variable temperature that ranges between 430 degrees Celsius during the day and minus 180 degrees Celsius at night, Mercury’s average distance from Earth is 77 million km. Just compare that with the 384,400 km separating Earth from the moon – the only outer space “location” we’ve ever managed to land on.

 

white polished cut diamonds
Credit: Bjoern Wylezich / shutterstock.com
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