Diamonds on Mercury

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The treasures Mercury holds might be more than we think. Just a year ago, not much was known about Mercury due to its extreme climate. With a temperature ranging from 801 °F to −279 °F, it is hard for humans to physically explore it. Does this mean it’s impossible to find out more about this intriguing planet? Absolutely not! In 2022, scientists made a breathtaking discovery about this planet: its surface is covered with one of the most precious gems found on earth — diamonds.

The diamond on the surface of Mercury is not the shiny one that we would see in jewelry stores. The planet’s crust is mostly graphite, so the diamonds are opaque instead of clear. On Earth, diamonds form deep in the ground because of the high pressure and temperature found there. They can only form under conditions that are not met above the 150-kilometer line underground. We have formerly understood that diamonds can form through high-speed collisions, although we don’t see it being done very often. On Mercury, it’s been agreed upon since the discovery that this is the main way that diamonds form. Graphite and other forms of carbon can be turned into diamonds with the strike of an asteroid. A few months ago, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference suggested that the crust of Mercury could contain 16 quadrillion tons of diamonds. This is predicted to be 16 times Earth’s reserves. Some scientists acknowledge that some of the diamonds may be destroyed by later impacts from the meteorites. However, this number should be very limited due to the strong nature of diamonds, being one of the hardest and strongest materials on earth.

Nevertheless, going to Mercury right now and retrieving all the diamonds is definitely not a good business idea. Even though it’s difficult, we are capable of mining the diamonds, but there are downsides to doing so. Any mining operation would be highly expensive, so barely any profit would be made. Also, scientists are currently able to make diamonds in the lab, so obtaining them from another planet would be unnecessarily costly and energy-consuming. 

The next big opportunity to find out more about this fascinating discovery will happen in 2025. BepiColombo will once again reach the planet’s orbit after its last mission in 2018. The main goal of this mission is to conduct further studies on Mercury. It will be a large step in the direction of helping us learn how Mercury formed, as well as the properties of our early solar system. During this mission, BepiColombo will try to detect a distinct type of infrared light that diamonds reflect, making our estimations about how much diamond Mercury contains more accurate.

No one knows what Mercury-related discoveries may present themselves in the next few years. Although we have struggled to explore this planet for a long time, it seems like times are changing. We all look forward to learning more about Mercury and the wonders it contains that have been hidden from humanity for decades. 

This column was submitted by high school student Iris Wang. Student STEM Columns are submitted by high school or advanced middle school students who wish to share their passion for STEM. Students interested in submitting a column should email us at

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