The Planet Mercury

This article provides some information about Mercury, a planet which is the least explored. It includes some interesting facts about this planet, that you probably didn't know!
Man has always been curious to know about space, where he lives like a molecule on a planet called Earth. And this curiosity has led him to study the solar system. For this purpose, man has also explored planets like Mars, as well as visited the Earth's only natural satellite, the Moon. The advanced technology has made it possible for man to send satellites to space and collect information about the various events and changes taking place in the universe.

Mercury is closest to the Sun. So, if compared to other planets, less research work has been done on it. Any satellite that is sent to study Mercury can be pulled in by the Sun, as a result of its proximity to the planet.
  • The planet has been named after Mercury, a Roman messenger of God.
  • It is the smallest planet which is one-third the diameter of the Earth.
  • Its density is the second highest at 5.427 g/cm3, a little less than Earth's which is 5.515 g/cm3.
  • The orbital period of Mercury is about 88 Earth days and rotational period is 58.65 days.
  • It can be seen in the morning, evening, and in daylight with the help of binoculars or even with unaided eyes. It is more often visible from the Earth's southern hemisphere.
  • Mariner 10 was the only spacecraft to approach the planet in 1974-1975 to measure its surface. During that time, 2700 pictures of the planet were taken. Mariner 10 has studied only about 45% of the planet's surface.
  • It is believed to look like the Earth's moon. The surface is packed with plains, craters of various sizes, and lava flows.
  • The Caloris basin is the largest crater on Mercury, which is 1,550 kilometers in diameter. Such similar basins have been found on the Moon too. However, a spacecraft called MESSENGER, which flew by Mercury in the year 2008, has revealed many differences between the two.
  • Mercury has an iron core that creates magnetic field which is 1% as strong as the Earth's.
  • It has no natural satellite and its atmosphere is believed to be extremely thin. Furthermore, its atmosphere contains 42% Oxygen, 29% Sodium, 22% Hydrogen, 6% Helium, 0.5% Potassium along with possible traces of other gases.
  • There is no possibility of water on the planet as it is much closer to the sun, but still some scientists suspect that the white part seen in the crater's basin may contain water ice which has not been confronted to the sun.
  • A lot of fluctuation has been found in the temperatures. A day temperature of 430 degree Celsius has been observed and in the night it goes down to -170 degrees Celsius.
  • Unlike the other planets, Mercury and Venus have no moons.
  • From Mercury, the Sun is believed to appear two and half times larger than the Earth and the Earth appears blue in color.
  • Japan and the European Space Agency planned a joint venture called BepiColombo, which will set off in July 2016 to map the planet and to study its magnetosphere.