Table of Contents
mercury planet the hottest of all the planets in the solar system. This article describes mercury and also provides you other interesting mercury planet information and facts and the popular characteristics of mercury planet you may not have known.
Facts About Mercury
- Mercury planet is the closest planet to the sun.
- It is the hottest planets because of its proximity to the sun.
- Mercury planet measures 35,983,095 miles (57,909,175km in size as it average distance from the sun.
- Mercury is slightly bigger than the Earths moon when compared in size.
- Mercury is made of a large metal ball ofironwith a very thin silicate crust.
- The atmosphere of mercury is very thin consisting of contains small amounts of hydrogen,helium, andoxygen. It also has even tinier amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
- Mercury is smaller than Earths moon, but heavier than Earth.
- Mercury surface temperature can get as high as 8000F (4300C) during the day, the hottest it has ever gotten to on Earth planet is 1350F (600C).
- Mercury diameter is4,880km.
- Another name for mercury is the messenger of the gods.
- Mercury planet does not have a moon (satellite) just like Venus and Pluto planets.
- Mercury orbits the sun once every 88 Earth days; it therefore takes 59 Earth days to make one full rotation.
- Mercury is the seconddensestmajor body in the solar system, afterEarth.
What is Mercury?
Mercury is the smallest and hottest planet in the solar system, it is said to be the hottest planet because it is the closest to the sun and it is also the shortest of all planets in the solar system in terms of distance from the sun. When compared with Venus, Earth, and Mars planets, Mercury is the rockiest planet of all. Since Mercury is very close to the sun, it is only possible to view in the morning or in the twilight sky and with the use of binoculars because it is lost in the Sun’s glare for most of the time. Only two spacecraft have ever visited mercury, and the entire surface wasn’t even photographed until earlier this century. The picture that was sent by the spacecraft Mariner-10 in 1974 shows that the surface of the Mercury is quite similar to the Earths moon. It is rugged and full of holes.
When Was Mercury Discovered?
Ancient people have known Mercury since the prehistoric times, during those times, the ancient people thought that the planets was some kind of divine beings that moves across the heavens in an unknown ways, they also thought that mercury was tidally locked to the Sun, always facing one side towards the star. There were many doubts at this time, people suggested that if Mercury always faced one side towards the Sun, one of its sides should be hot and the other cold. Astronomers thought that maybe an atmosphere around Mercury kept the temperatures more even, but research data didnt accept this assumption. However, there is no specific record on a particular person that discovered Mercury, any cave dweller could have discovered Mercury planet since it was one of the five original planets viewed with the naked eye; others were Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In the 17th century, the first telescopic observations on Mercury were made by Galileo using his crude telescope; this instrument was not so powerful to be able to see that the planet had phases, like Venus.
Soviet scientists in 1962 bounced the first radar signals off Mercurys surface, and then American astronomers calculated that Mercury does spin, it takes Mercury 59 days to rotate once, and not the 88 days it takes to complete an orbit.
Mercury planet has now been visited, the first two spacecraft to visit mercury and view it closely wasMariner-10andMESSENGER in 1974 and 1975. Mariner 10 flew by Mercury three times and could only map 45% of the surface since it is too close to sun making it difficult to capture everything.
NASA MESSENGERspacecraft was launched in 2004 and has been visiting Mercury since 2011. NASA completed its first flyby in January 2008 providing new and high quality images of some of the terrain that were not captured then by Mariner-10 during the fly-bys. Since then Messenger repeatedly covered the entire planet and has captured over 250,000 much more higher-resolution images than Marina-10.
How did Mercury get its Name?
The Romans named Mercury after the swift-footed Roman messenger god Roman deityMercury because it has the ability to move across the sky faster than anyother planet.
How big is mercury?
Mercury’ssurfacegravityis 3.7 m/s2 when compared to Earthgravity it is equivalent to 38% (0.38 g). This means that Mercury is approximately 0.383 times the size of the Earth. Mercury is the smallest and leastmassive planetin the solar system; it is slightly less than Earth.
Mercury distance from the sun
Mercury average distance from the sun is 35,983,095miles (57,909,175 km), which is 0.38 times when compared to earths distance from the sun. Atperihelion (when it is closest the sun), Mercurys distance from the Sun is only about two-thirds (or 66%) 28,580,000 miles (46,000,000 km). This means that it is 0.313 times than Earth). However, atAphelion (when its distance is far away from sun), it is 43,380,000 miles (69,820,000 km). This means that it is 0.459 times that of Earth
Mercury diameter is4,880km; this is approximately 38% the Earths diameter. For instance, if you line up three Mercury side by side on the ground, they would be a little bit larger than the Earth from end to end.However, this makes Mercury smaller than the largest moons in our system such as Ganymede and Titan, Mercury is more massive and far denser than they are.
Mercury Planet Color
Mercury has a dark graycolor or you can say it is slightly brownish in color with a rocky surface, the planets color is very similar to the Earths moon, most times, this makes it difficult to differentiate the two from each other. The dark gray color of this planet is as a result of Mercurys molten surface that cooled and solidified billions of years ago after the Solar system formation.
Mercury Length of Day
Mercury rotates round the sun once every 88 Earth days. A day on Mercury lasts a lot longer than a day on Earth. One day on Mercury lasts 59 Earth. Mercury spins slowly and it takes a long time for the sun to rise and set in this planet giving it a long time. Mercury planet experiences no seasons unlike the Earth, However, there are places at the poles that never experiences sunlight because they are blocked by steep crater walls.
Mercury takes 88 days to rotate round the sun which makes it a year on earth, it takes 58 days and 17 hours to revolve round its own axis which mean one day of Mercury is equivalent to our 58 days and 17 hours, it doesnt take so long for it to go all the way round the sun
Mercury Surface Features
Mercury surface is exactly like the Earth’s moon, it has a number of different features. It is covered with holes ranging in sizes which are called impact craters. Features such as young craters in otherwise smooth terrain, new craters on top of old craters, craters with peaks in the center, and craters with lines or “rays” of bright material pointing out from the central crater can be seenin the Mariner 10 images. These craters were formed as a result of the rocks that fall from space. The rocks rolls very fast toward mercury surface and once they hit Mercury, they create a visible holes which are called crater, scientists think that the craters might be the reason for mercury slow spin all along. Interestingly, one side of the planet seems to be more heavily cratered than the other side, while on one side there are relatively smooth plains which are common feature near the Caloris Basin. TheCaloris basin seems to be the largest single feature on the planet; it was believed to have been created by the impact of a large meteorite.
Mercury planet can get very cold during the night reaching up to -2750F (-1700 C), but during the day, it becomes extremely hot. The surface temperature can get as high as 8000F (4300C) during the day, the hottest it has ever gotten on Earth planet is 1350F (600C), however, some metal like zinc or lead can even dissolve under such temperature. Earth has a blanket of air that protects it from extreme heat and the extreme cold but mercury doesnt and because it closeness to the sun, it is extremely hot and there is no existence of living things on it. Mercury has a very thin atmosphere consisting of atoms blasted off its surface by thesolar wind.This atmosphere is constantly being replenished and it is covered with crater.
However, Mercury has a very thin atmosphere with no cloud, rain, wind or water, hence life is non-existent in this planet but there are quite a high number hills and plain lands. There are also smooth plains on Mercury which explains that molten material at some point occurred here in the past, filling up the low-lying areas. There is present of wrinkle ridges scattered across mercury planet, which indicates that the planet cooled down, and shrunk back in the past which left it with the squeezed and lifting surface.