Mercury is the closest planet to the solar and the smallest planet in our photo voltaic system. With a diameter of about 3,032 miles (4,880 kilometers), Mercury is lower than half the scale of Earth, which is about 7,926 miles (12,756 km) in diameter. However what Mercury lacks in dimension, it makes up for in pace: It orbits the solar quicker than every other planet within the photo voltaic system.
How did Mercury get its identify?
The planet is known as after the Roman deity Mercury, the speedy messenger of the gods, who was the Roman equal of the Greek god Hermes. Mercury orbits our solar each 88 days — quicker than every other planet within the photo voltaic system — and a yr on Mercury is lower than three Earth months. This swift orbit impressed the traditional Romans to affiliate the small planet with Mercury, based on Cool Cosmos, an internet site run by the Infrared Processing and Evaluation Heart on the California Institute of Expertise, whereas the traditional Greeks related the planet with Hermes, based on the European Southern Observatory.
Mercury is seen within the night time sky with out a telescope and has been identified to people all over the world for 1000’s of years. The Sumerians made one of many earliest identified information of the planet in round 3,000 B.C., based on Cool Cosmos.
Is Mercury the most well liked planet?
As Mercury is the closest planet to the solar, you would possibly assume it is the most well liked planet. Nevertheless, Mercury lacks an ambiance like Earth’s that may entice and maintain warmth, so the aspect dealing with away from the solar is at all times very chilly — particularly because it takes about 59 Earth days for the slow-spinning Mercury to finish a rotation. Temperatures on the floor of Mercury can nonetheless attain a toasty 800 levels Fahrenheit (427 levels Celsius) on the day aspect however can fall to as little as minus 290 F (minus 179 C) on the night time aspect, based on NASA.
Venus, the second planet from the solar, is the most well liked planet as a result of it has a dense ambiance that retains warmth from the solar’s rays. Venus has a floor temperature of about 860 levels Fahrenheit (462 levels Celsius) and stays that scorching on each the day and night time sides, Dwell Science beforehand reported.
Associated: The solar has blasted Mercury with a plasma wave
What’s Mercury fabricated from?
Mercury is essentially composed of iron, based on the Pure Historical past Museum in London, U.Ok. It has an interior core with a liquid metallic outer core and is encased in a mantle and crust, similar to Earth. Mercury’s interior core is strong and shut in dimension to Earth’s, regardless of Mercury being a a lot smaller planet total, a 2019 examine revealed within the journal Geophysical Analysis Letters discovered.
As an alternative of a full ambiance, Mercury has an exosphere — the identify given to solely the skinny outer layer of Earth’s ambiance. Mercury’s exosphere is fashioned by photo voltaic wind and meteoroid strikes blasting atoms off its floor, based on NASA. The exosphere offers Mercury llittle safety from objects like asteroids and the planet is pockmarked with craters, a lot in order that Mercury appears just like Earth’s moon. There are not any moons orbiting Mercury as a result of it is so near the solar that the solar’s gravity doubtless pulls them away, based on the Pure Historical past Museum in London.
What’s Mercury retrograde?
Mercury retrograde is when the planet seems to be, however just isn’t really, transferring backward within the sky. It is an optical phantasm brought on by people’ perspective of seeing the smaller planet catch up and cross Earth because it curves across the solar, Dwell Science beforehand reported. Some astrologists affiliate Mercury in retrograde with disruptions to every day life on Earth, however there is not any scientific proof for this.
“The concept that the gravity from these very distant our bodies impacts our lives in a roundabout way simply would not work within the framework of physics,” Jean-Luc Margot, a professor of astronomy and planetary science on the College of California, Los Angeles, beforehand advised Dwell Science.
The retrograde phantasm occurs with different planets that Earth passes, and it is not that uncommon. The Mercury retrograde durations in 2022 are Jan. 13 to Feb. 3, Might 10 to June 2, Sep. 9 to Oct. 1, and Dec. 28 to Jan. 18 (2023), based on The Outdated Farmer’s Almanac.
Is there life on Mercury?
Scientists nonetheless have a lot to find out about Mercury, however they don’t have any purpose to assume it harbors life. Mercury’s searing and freezing temperatures, in addition to its abundance of photo voltaic radiation, are doubtless too excessive for any dwelling organisms to deal with, based on NASA. Moreover, due to probes just like the MESSENGER (Mercury Floor, House Surroundings, Geochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft, about 98% of the floor of Mercury has been photographed intimately, based on the MESSENGER web site.
MESSENGER confirmed proof of frozen water on Mercury in 2011. The ice is congregated on the poles in craters so it’s shielded from the solar’s rays. A lot of this ice might have been carried to Mercury on asteroids. Nevertheless, a 2020 examine revealed within the Astrophysical Journal Letters discovered that mercury might be creating as much as 10% of its personal ice.
Here is how: Mercury’s floor has minerals with teams of bonded oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H) atoms referred to as hydroxyls, which may grow to be energized within the solar’s excessive warmth and collide to create water (H2O) molecules. Whereas the solar additionally breaks down these molecules, some drift across the planet and find yourself in freezing-cold craters on the poles to kind ice, Dwell Science’s sister web site House.com beforehand reported.
“It is a little bit just like the tune ‘Resort California.’ The water molecules can verify in to the shadows, however they’ll by no means depart,” examine principal investigator Thomas Orlando, a professor on the Georgia Institute of Expertise’s College of Chemistry and Biochemistry, stated in a assertion on the time.
To view a picture gallery of Mercury taken by probes, take a look at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory web site. To be taught extra concerning the phantasm of Mercury retrograde, watch this quick YouTube video by Vox. For extra details about the MESSENGER probe mission, go to NASA’s in-depth MESSENGER web page.
Initially revealed on Dwell Science.