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In 2008, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft discovered water vapor in Mercury’s atmosphere. Chad Weber – [email protected], Support Universe Today podcasts with Fraser Cain. The presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Mercury indicates that there is water or water ice somewhere on the planet. It has a tenuous atmosphere made up of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, sodium, calcium, potassium and water vapor. The atmosphere is so spread out that we barely notice it, yet its weight is equal to a layer of water more than 10 meters (34 feet) deep covering the entire planet. The lower atmosphere is a warm region(around 210 K). The atmospheric pressure on Mercury is extremely low, about a thousandth of a trillionth of Earth's at sea level. Surprisingly, Mercuryâs atmosphere contains tiny amounts of water vapor -- 0.03 percent. Mercury has a very tenuous and highly variable atmosphere (surface-bound exosphere) containing hydrogen, helium, oxygen, sodium, calcium, potassium and water vapor, with a combined pressure level of about 10 â14 bar (1 nPa). Mercury also has the lowest axial tilt of any planet in the Solar System â approximately 0.027°, compared to Earthâs 23.439°. Nature.com, Join our 836 patrons! Mercuryâs atmosphere is constantly shifting, is consistently â¦ Wallace Arthur is an evolutionary biologist and emeritus professor of Zoology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. The atmosphere of Mercury is one of the most tenuous in the Solar System. Credit: NASA. The objects with the least percentage are Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Titan, Pluto. The spacecraft flew past Mercury a total of three times; its closest encounter with the planet was at a distance of only 103 miles. It’s thought that this water is created when hydrogen and oxygen atoms meet in the atmosphere. From this distance, it takes sunlight 3.2 minutes to traveâ¦ https://www.amazon.com/Universe-Today-Ultimate-Viewing-Cosmos/dp/1624145442/, Audio Podcast version: As for knowing the actual composition of Mercuryâs interior, it is still quite difficult to fully ascertain. His newest book is called the Biological Universe, and features the search for life in the Milky Way and Beyond. References: There is no atmosphere in space. Mercury Atmosphere (Exosphere) Surface pressure: <~5 x 10-15 bar (0.005 picobar) Average temperature: 440 K (167 C) (590-725 K, sunward side) Total mass of atmosphere: <~10000 kg Atmospheric composition (Column abundances in 10 6 per cm 2): Sodium 12,000-200,000; Magnesium 100,000; Oxygen <40,000; â¦ This airborne dust gives the planet its ruddy brown appearance. The exospheric species originate either from the Solar wind or from the planetary â¦ Other sources may include the breakdown of mineraâ¦ But, this name is misleading. 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