Mercury has been found to have a dark side with graphite, a crystalline form of carbon commonly found in pencils, being the source of the mysterious dark colouration of the planet’s surface.
Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, an Instrument Scientist from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, who was not involved in the study, said the study sheds light on some longstanding mysteries in planetary science.
Maynard-Casely says that the discovery came as a surprise and may change our view on the how the solar system was formed, and the current model of predicting the presence of carbon, including here on Earth.
“Carbon’s been a very tricky element to pin down, even on Earth, and it is a puzzle to discover what has happened to our carbon. There’s a thought now that a lot of the carbon on Earth is trapped further down within the interior and that we are missing a lot of minerals. There is currently a bit of a worldwide hunt for these,” she said.