Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and closest to the sun. It takes about 88 days to orbit around the sun. Numerous spacecraft have studied the planet throughout the years. The scientists studying this planet have found amazing truths about this small planet. Here are some facts about Mercury.
1. Mercury has the most extreme temperature fluctuations among other planets
Mercury has a surface that can be cold at times though near the sun. During the day, the temperature can go as high as 850 degrees Celsius, while it can go as low as negative 270 degrees Celsius during the night.
2. It is the smallest planet in the Solar System
Mercury has about 3,100 miles in diameter, equivalent to 5000 kilometers. Though Pluto was once considered the smallest planet, scientists downgraded it to a dwarf planet due to its extremely small size, leaving Mercury as the smallest planet. The size of Mercury is almost equivalent to the continental United States.
3. Mercury has Ice
It is believed that Mercury has ice inside the Mercury craters. Mercury has the North Pole and the South Pole, which are quite shadowy. It allows them to retain water which can then freeze to ice. Scientists also believe that comets and meteorites could have delivered ice to these areas.
4. Mercury survived the impact with a giant asteroid
It is said that a giant asteroid hit Mercury about 5 billion years ago and created a crater across the planet. The crater known as Caloris Basin can fit the whole of Texas State inside it.
5. Mercury has a huge iron core
The Iron core at the planet’s center takes up about 75% of the planet’s radius. The core contains the most amount of iron than other planets have. Though no one knows why the iron is in the core, it is believed that the iron could result from how the planet was formed.
6. It has a thin atmosphere
Mercury has the thinnest and smallest layer of atmosphere than other planets in the Solar System. The atmosphere has been named ‘exosphere’ due to its small nature. Scientists have revealed that the atmosphere could have calcium, sodium, and magnesium. As the planet moves closer and further away from the sun, these elements change in concentration.
7. Mercury has a magnetic field different at its poles
The planet generates magnetic fields in its interior, though it is weak. It has been revealed that the magnetic strength is different in the North Pole and the South Pole. The magnetic field lines in the South Pole are bigger than those in the North Pole. Despite Mercury’s weak magnetic field, it still behaves the same as Earth’s.
8. Mercury has no moons nor rings
Mercury has neither rings nor moons, making it different from other Planets in the Solar System. It is only similar to Venus, which has neither moons nor rings.