Aren't You Mercurius? 10 Facts About Planet Mercury for Your Kids

Now that Pluto has been stripped of its designation as a planet, Mercury has become the smallest planet in our Solar System.
Being the nearest planet to the Sun, the day time temperature on Mercury can reach as high as 801°F. However, the absence of atmosphere to trap the heat results in the same dipping to as low as -279°F at night. The distance between Mercury and the Earth is approximately 48 million miles when it is at its closest, and 138 million miles when it is at its farthest. Being one of the five original naked-eye planets, Mercury was known to the mankind since ancient times. However, the interesting facts about it that we talk of today, only came our way more recently.

Planet Mercury Facts

Mercury has a diameter of 3,031.67 miles, which is roughly 38 percent that of the Earth. Similarly, its total surface area is 0.147 times and mass is 0.055 that of our planet. Its total volume is only 5.4 percent that of the Earth. With that size, you can easily fit in 18 planets of the size of Mercury in the Earth. Enlisted below are more of such facts about this planet, which will add to your knowledge about it.
  1. Mercury is one of the four terrestrial planets in the Solar System; the other three being planet Venus, Earth, and Mars.
  2. Its gravity is very less compared to that of the Earth―around 38 percent to be precise, which means you will weigh mere 27 lbs on Mercury if you weigh 70 lbs on the Earth.
  3. It was named after the Roman god, Mercury, who was a messenger of Gods, as it appeared to move faster than the other planets.
  4. The elliptical path of the planet is such that it comes as close as 29 million miles to the Sun and goes as far as 43 million miles for the solar body.
  5. If you intend to see planet Mercury, the right time to do so is at twilight, when it shines as a bright star in the sky.
  6. Being so close to the Sun, it takes only 88 days for this planet to orbit the Sun. To put it in context, the Earth takes 365 days to do the same. That makes Mercury four times faster than our planet.
  7. When it comes to rotation, it takes Mercury 58 Earth days to complete one rotation, which means a single day on planet Mercury amounts to 58 Earth days.
  8. The surface of this planet is somewhat similar to that of the Moon―full of craters, which are believed to be caused by meteors and asteroid crashes.
  9. Even though it doesn't have an atmosphere, scientists believe that there do exist trace amounts of hydrogen, helium, sodium, and oxygen out there.
  10. As far as its composition is concerned, it is made up of 70 percent metallic and 30 percent silicate material. Its iron core is 42 percent of its total size.
Most of these facts about Mercury are attributed to the two space missions carried out by NASA: the Mariner 10 (1974 - 75) and the MESSENGER (2004 - present.) The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are planning a new mission to planet Mercury. Named BepiColombo, it is scheduled for launch in 2014. With such developments in the field of astronomy, it wouldn't be surprising to see more of mysteries about this planet being revealed some time in the near future.
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