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|How to say it||how to say: /ˈmɜrkjəri/|
|Reference date J2000|
|Longest distance from the Sun||
0.466 697 AU
|Shortest distance from the Sun||
0.307 499 AU
|Longest distance from the center of its orbital path
0.387 098 AU
|How egg-shaped its orbit is
|How long it takes to complete an orbit||
87.969 1 d|
(0.240 846 a)
|How long an orbit seems to take
(from the central body)
|Average speed||47.87 km/s|
|Angle above the reference plane
7.005° to Ecliptic|
3.38° to Sun’s equator
6.34° to Invariable plane
|Longitude of where it comes up through the reference plane||48.331°|
|Angle between its shortest distance from what it orbits around and where it comes up through the reference plane
("argument of periapsis")
|Natural things which orbit around it||None|
|Size and Other Qualities|
|Average distance from its center to its surface||
2,439.7 ± 1.0 km|
|Flatness at the poles||< 0.0006|
|Area of its surface||
|Volume inside it||
|Average density||5.427 g/cm³|
|Gravity at its surface||
|Slowest speed able to escape into space
|How long it takes to turn around one time
(in relation to the stars)
|Turning speed||10.892 km/h (3.026 m/s)|
|Angle at which it turns
(in relation to its orbit)
|2.11′ ± 0.1′|
|Long. around the celestial equator
18 h 44 min 2 s|
|Angle above the celestial equator
|How much light it reflects||
|up to −1.9|
|4.5" – 13"|
42% Molecular oxygen|
Trace amounts of argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, xenon, krypton, & neon
Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System. It is the closest planet to the sun. It makes one trip around the Sun once every 87.969 days. Mercury is bright when it is visible from Earth, ranging from −2.0 to 5.5 in apparent magnitude. It cannot be easily seen as it is usually too close to the Sun. Because Mercury is normally lost in the glare of the Sun (except during a solar eclipse), Mercury can only be seen in the morning or evening twilight.
Compared to what is known about the other planets in the Solar System, little is known about Mercury. Telescopes on the Earth show only a small, bright crescent. The first of two spacecraft to visit the planet was Mariner 10, which mapped only about 45% of the planet’s surface from 1974 to 1975. The second is the MESSENGER spacecraft, which finished mapping the planet in March 2013.
Mercury looks a lot like Earth's Moon. It has many craters with areas of smooth plains, no moons around it and no atmosphere as we know it. However, Mercury does have an extremely thin atmosphere, known as an exosphere. Unlike Earth's moon, Mercury has a large iron core, which gives off a magnetic field about 1% as strong as that of the Earth. It is a very dense planet due to the large size of its core. Surface temperatures can be anywhere from about 90 to 700 K (−183 °C to 427 °C, −297 °F to 801 °F), with the subsolar point being the hottest and the bottoms of craters near the poles being the coldest.
Known sightings of Mercury date back to at least the first millennium BC. Before the 4th century BC, Greek astronomers thought that Mercury was two different objects: one able to be seen only at sunrise, which they called Apollo; the other that was only able to be seen at sunset, which they called Hermes. The English name for the planet is from the Romans, who named it after the Roman god Mercury, which they thought to be the same as the Greek god Hermes. The symbol for Mercury is based on Hermes' staff.
Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it is not the warmest. This is because it has no atmosphere, so any heat that the Sun gives to it quickly escapes into space.
Mercury is one of four inner planets in the Solar System, and has a rocky body like the Earth. It is the smallest planet in the Solar System, with a radius of 2,439.7 km. Mercury is even smaller than some of the largest moons in the solar system, such as Ganymede and Titan. However, it has a greater mass than the largest moons in the solar system. Mercury is made of about 70% metallic and 30% silicate material. Mercury's density is the second highest in the Solar System at 5.427 g/cm³, only a little bit less than Earth’s.
- "mercurial". Merriam-Webster Online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercurial. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- "Mercury Fact Sheet". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. November 30, 2007. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/mercuryfact.html. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- "The MeanPlane (Invariable plane) of the Solar System passing through the barycenter". 2009-04-03. http://home.comcast.net/~kpheider/MeanPlane.gif. Retrieved 2009-04-03. (produced with Solex 10 written by Aldo Vitagliano; see also Invariable plane)
- Yeomans, Donald K. (April 7, 2008). "HORIZONS System". NASA JPL. http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Munsell, Kirk; Smith, Harman; Harvey, Samantha (May 28, 2009). "Mercury: Facts & Figures". Solar System Exploration. NASA. http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Mercury&Display=Facts. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Seidelmann, P. Kenneth; Archinal, B. A.; A’hearn, M. F.; et al. (2007). "Report of the IAU/IAGWorking Group on cartographic coordinates and rotational elements: 2006". Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy 90: 155–180. . http://adsabs.harvard.edu/doi/10.1007/s10569-007-9072-y. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- Margot, L.J.; Peale, S. J.; Jurgens, R. F.; Slade, M. A.; Holin, I. V. (2007). "Large Longitude Libration of Mercury Reveals a Molten Core". Science 316: 710–714. . . http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007Sci...316..710M.
- "Mercury l Mercury facts, pictures and information.". nineplanets.org. 2011 [last update]. http://nineplanets.org/mercury.html. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "BBC Solar System - Mercury: A tortured world close to our blazing Sun". bbc.co.uk. 2012 [last update]. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/solarsystem/sun_and_planets/mercury_(planet). Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Pluto was once thought to be the smallest, but, as of 2006, Pluto is now known as a dwarf planet.
- Murchie, Scott L.; Vervack Jr., Ronald J.; Anderson, Brian J. (March 2011), "Space Science: Journey to the Innermost Planet", Scientific American (New York) 304 (3): 26-31
- How it Works Book of Space. Imagine Publishing. 2010. p. 36-37. .
- "Mercury magnetic field". C. T. Russell & J. G. Luhmann. http://www-spc.igpp.ucla.edu/personnel/russell/papers/merc_mag/. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "Background Science". European Space Agency. http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/category/index.cfm?fcategoryid=4586. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- Dunne, J. A. and Burgess, E. (1978). "Chapter One". The Voyage of Mariner 10 — Mission to Venus and Mercury. NASA History Office. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-424/ch1.htm.
- Duncan, John Charles (1946). Astronomy: A Textbook. Harper & Brothers. pp. 125. "The symbol for Mercury represents the Caduceus, a wand with two serpents twined around it, which was carried by the messenger of the gods."
- "CBBC Newsround". British Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/14143062. Retrieved February 04, 2012.
- Strom, Strom, Robert G.; Sprague, Ann L. (2003). Exploring Mercury: The Iron Planet. p. 52. .
The Solar System
☾ = moon(s) ∅ = rings
|Mercury||Venus||Earth ☾||Mars ☾|
|Jupiter ☾ ∅||Saturn ☾ ∅||Uranus ☾ ∅||Neptune ☾ ∅|
|Dwarf planets||Ceres||Pluto ☾||Haumea ☾||Makemake|
| Groups and families: Vulcanoids · Near-Earth asteroids · Asteroid belt |
Jupiter Trojans · Centaurs · Neptune Trojans · Asteroid moons · Meteoroids · Pallas · Juno · Vesta · Hygiea · Interamnia · Europa
|See also the list of asteroids.|
|Kuiper belt – Plutinos: Orcus · Ixion – Cubewanos: Varuna · |
Quaoar · Huya
|Scattered disc: Sedna|
|Comets|| Periodic comets and non-periodic comets |
Damocloids · Oort cloud
|See also the list of solar system objects|