Multiple spacecraft have investigated Mercury, the nearest planet to the sun, over the years. Scientists have made some incredible discoveries concerning the small planet, including mapping its entire surface. In this post, we bring out some of the most fascinating facts about Mercury.
Mercury passes across the face of the Sun every seven years or so, as seen from Earth. Mercury’s orbit is inclined by 7 degrees to the plane of Earth’s orbit, and this is referred to as a transit. It is named after the Roman god Mercury, the god’s messenger, and is most likely related to the planet’s orbital speed.
Check out these Fascinating Facts about Mercury-
1. Mercury has been known to humanity since ancient times, and while its exact discovery date is uncertain, the Sumerians are said to have made the first reference of the planet approximately 3000 BC.
2. Mercury has an 88-day year, yet a Mercury day is 176 Earth days. Mercury is virtually tidally locked to the Sun, also known as a gravitational lock, which has slowed the planet’s spin to nearly match its orbit around the Sun throughout time.
3. Mercury orbits the Sun so swiftly that ancient civilizations thought it was two separate stars – one that appeared in the morning and another that appeared in the evening.
4. With a diameter of 4,879 kilometers, Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system and one of only five planets visible to the naked eye.
5. Mercury is the second densest planet after the Earth. Mercury, despite its small size, has a high density due to its composition of heavy metals and rock, which is typical of terrestrial planets.
6. Mercury is named after the Roman gods’ messenger, who is also known in Greek mythology as Hermes. This is due to Mercury’s fast orbit around the Sun and the rapidity with which Mercury, the Roman god, could carry messages.
7. Mercury was not recognized as a planet until Copernicus published his Sun-centered model of the Solar System in 1543, which placed the Sun at the center of the solar system rather than the previously assumed center, the Earth.
8. The planet’s gravity is only 38% that of Earth’s. This indicates that Mercury’s atmosphere isn’t strong enough to keep it in place, and it is driven away by solar winds. Those same solar winds, on the other hand, are replenishing the atmosphere by bringing in new gasses, radioactive decay, and dust from micrometeorites.
9. Because of its low gravity and lack of atmosphere, Mercury has no moons or rings.
10. It was previously thought that a planet named Vulcan existed between Mercury’s orbit and that of the Sun, however, no such planet was ever discovered.
11. Mercury’s orbit is elliptical rather than circular. According to physicists and astronomers, it has the most eccentric orbit in the solar system and the last round of all the planets.
12. Mercury is just the second hottest planet in the solar system. Venus, while being further from the Sun than Mercury, has hotter temperatures. This is due to Mercury’s lack of an atmosphere to regulate temperature, resulting in the planet’s most dramatic temperature swings, ranging from -170°C (-280°F) at night to 430°C (800°F) during the day.
13. Mercury is not affected by the seasons. Mercury’s axis has the least tilt of all the planets, resulting in the absence of seasons on its surface.
14. Mercury is the only planet that does not revolve exactly once a year, revolving three times for every two Sun orbits. This is due to the fact that it is almost tidally locked to the Sun.
15. Mercury’s orbit was crucial in proving Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Mercury is one of the most fascinating planets since it has helped us learn a lot about how our Solar System came to be and how other star systems might form. Some of the most fascinating facts about Mercury you must know. Let us know your thoughts on this planet in the comment section below.