As the closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing planets in the solar system. Compared to our comprehension of the Moon and Mars, not much is known about this planet with a hostile environment.
Mercury’s crust is mostly in the form of graphite, a pure form of carbon that can convert into diamonds after being struck by asteroids. The planet is full of craters due to meteoroids and comets that struck it over the years.
But now, researchers seem to have more claims about the surface of Mercury. New research previewed this month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference suggests that the crust of Mercury 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,” says Kevin Cannon, a geologist at the Colorado School of Mines, who presented his latest findings at the conference.
Do these diamonds look like what we suppose? The answer is most probably not: “They’re probably nothing like the big clear gemstones we cut and make into jewelry,” Cannon said. “A better comparison is the small cloudy diamonds used in industry as abrasives, likely in a messy mixture with graphite and other forms of carbon.”
The only response to these findings could be, “I wish Mercury weren’t this hard to explore.”