Delivery of water and organics to Mercury through asteroid and comet impacts

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Detection and observation of the bright and dark polar deposits in permanently shadowed northpolar regions of Mercury suggest that these regions contain water and organic compounds. This is somehow surprising taking into account the planet’s proximity to the Sun. Water flux on Mercury was studied in the past and have shown that interplanetary dust particles, asteroids and comets are possible sources of water on Mercury.We are studying how much water and organics certain asteroids (C-type) and comets can deliver to Mercury. We have performed numerical gravity simulations of impact rates on Mercury within the past few Myr. We use the N-body integrator RMVS/Swifter to propagate the Sun and the eight planets from their current positions. Separately, we add comets and asteroids to the simulations as massless test particles, based on their current orbital distributions. In our asteroid simulations we focus on organic-rich (C-class), basing ourselves on the dynamical model by Greenstreet et al. (2012) and on the measured distribution of taxonomic types across the Main Asteroid Belt. For the comets we assume a constant organic fraction. We expect to present first results at the meeting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Astronomical Society Meeting
Issue number111.06
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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