Chariot Solar, Solar

Mercury

Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System.

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. As such, it orbits the sun faster than all the other planets, at 87.87 earth days which is perhaps why Romans named it after their swift-footed messenger god.

It rotates on its axis exactly three times for every two revolutions it makes around the Sun. As seen from the Sun, in a frame of reference that rotates with the orbital motion, it appears to rotate only once every two Mercurian years. An observer on Mercury would therefore see only one day every two Mercurian years.

Because the planet is so close to the sun, Mercury’s surface temperature can reach a scorching 840 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius). However, since this world doesn’t have much of a real atmosphere to entrap any heat, at night temperatures can plummet to minus 275 F (minus 170 C), a temperature swing of more than 1,100 degrees F (600 degree C), the greatest in the solar system.

Since it has no significant atmosphere to stop impacts, the planet is pockmarked with craters.

Two spacecraft have visited Mercury: Mariner 10 flew by in 1974 and 1975; and MESSENGER, launched in 2004, orbited Mercury over 4,000 times in four years before exhausting its fuel and crashing into the planet’s surface on April 30, 2015.The BepiColombo spacecraft is planned to arrive at Mercury in 2025.

The Sumerians also knew of Mercury since at least 5,000 years ago. It was often associated with Nabu, the god of writing. Mercury was also given separate names for its appearance as both a morning star and as an evening star. Greek astronomers knew, however, that the two names referred to the same body, and Heraclitus, around 500 B.C., correctly thought that both Mercury and Venus orbited the sun, not Earth.

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