Here’s some cool and fun facts about the planet Mercury.
- Mercury is the closest planet to our Sun and is the smallest planet in our solar system.
- Mercury is so close to the sun, it is hard to directly observe it from Earth except during dawn or twilight.
- It is named after the ancient Roman god of trade and profit.
- Mercury does not have any moons or rings.
- It is the Planet with the Most Extreme Temperature Fluctuations in the Solar System.
- Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, its surface can still be extremely cold. The temperature during the day can reach 840 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but at night, temperatures can get as low as minus 275 F (minus 170 C). That fluctuation equals a temperature swing of more than 1,100 F (600 C), the largest of any planet in the solar system.
- There is no water on Mercury. But there might be a little ice in deep craters.
- After the Earth, Mercury is the second densest planet.
- Mercury has cliffs and valleys just like Earth. Some cliffs are a mile high.
- The orbit of Mercury is an ellipse rather than circular
- Mercury Orbits the Sun Faster than Any Other Planet. On average Mercury takes only 88 days to complete its orbit, traveling at a speed of 112,000 miles (180,000 km/h) per hour.
- A day on the surface of Mercury lasts 176 Earth days.
- Mercury’s core has more iron in it than any other planet’s in the solar system.
- Instead of an atmosphere, Mercury possesses a thin exosphere made up of atoms blasted off the surface by the solar wind and striking micrometeoroids.
- A large part of Mercury could be covered in dried lava. The planet’s northern plains appear smooth because lava may have poured over the surface, smoothing it out as it moved.
- Mercury is the second hottest planet after Venus
- Mercury does not experience any seasons. The axis of Mercury has the smallest tilt of all other planets, and this results in a lack of seasons on its surface.
- The first spacecraft to visit Mercury was Mariner 10, which imaged about 45 percent of the surface.
- You would need a very special spacesuit to visit Mercury. It would have to protect you from extreme heat and cold and dangerous radiation from the sun.
- Your weight on Mercury would be 38% of your weight on Earth.
- 1631: Thomas Harriott and Galileo Galilei observe Mercury with the newly invented telescope.
- 1631: Pierre Gassendi uses a telescope to watch from Earth as Mercury crosses the face of the sun.
- 1965: Incorrectly believing for centuries that the same side of Mercury always faces the sun, astronomers find that the planet rotates three times for every two orbits.
- 1974-1975: Mariner 10 photographs roughly half of Mercury’s surface in three flybys.
- 1991: Scientists using Earth-based radar find signs of ice locked in permanently shadowed areas of craters in Mercury’s polar regions.
- 2008-2009: MESSENGER observes Mercury during three flybys.
- 2011: MESSENGER begins its orbital mission at Mercury, yielding a treasure trove of images, compositional data, and scientific discoveries.
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