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Mercury Fun Facts

Updated on June 17, 2013

Mercury, the planet of travel and intellect

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, the movement of revolution around it taking place in only 88 days. However, the period of rotation around its axis is much longer, equivalent to 58 Earth days.

Also, due to its proximity to the central star , sunlight on Mercury is 6 and a half times more intense than on Earth.

The surface of Mercury is ten times smaller that the surface of Earth, and its weight is 20 times lower. Like Earth, Mercury is a solid, rocky planet.

Mercury Planet

The surface of Mercury is ten times smaller that the surface of Earth, and its weight is 20 times lower. Like Earth, Mercury is a solid, rocky planet.

When observed from Earth, Mercury seems to move faster than any other planets, this being the reason for which people named it after the Roman God.
Its surface is very similar to that of the Moon, with many meteoric craters.
If you gaze at the Sun from Mercury, it looks 2,5 times bigger in diameter than if you would see it from Earth, especially due to the fact that Mercury sky is always black ( due to lack of atmosphere ).

There was one space mission on Mercury: Mariner 10, in 1974, from which we got a precious information: the existance of Mercury's magnetic field.

Mercury Fun Facts
Mercury Fun Facts

Mysterious magnetic fields on Mercury

Data sent to the third survey of the Mercury planet, by the spacecraft MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) revealed the existence of strong magnetic storms in the the planet's magnetic "tail".

These "tails" are formed when solar wind, consisting of electrically charged particles that are generated by the Sun, are hitting the planet's magnetic field, looking like a river that goes around a boulder.

According to , only six of the eight planets in our solar system, except Mars and Venus, have magnetic fields and lines, and of the magnetic field of Mercury is the weakest.

On 29 September 2009, MESSENGER observed how the planet's magnetic tail has gathered a huge amount of energy from solar winds. In just 90 seconds, the magnetic field increased by 200%, to only dissipate in a minute and a half.

On Earth, the same process takes about an hour and a magnetic field increases only by 10%. "It's a very strange thing," said Jim Slavin, a solar fizician at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center and author of the study that reported the discovery. "We now have very weak solar winds. What will happen when solar activity will intensify? "Asked rhetorically Slavin.

Mercury Iron Rain

Scientists questions about the liquid core of the planet Mercury made possible the development of new theories of magnetic field, based on information provided by the Messenger first.

Information about the planet indicate that the core has cooled and solidified long ago. But to create a magnetic field requires a liquid or partially liquid core, which gave way to another theory: inside the planet .... it's snowing iron flakes.

This scenario may be a possible explanation. Mercury is the only planet in our solar system, that is solid, besides Earth that has the ability to develop a magnetic field. Informations gathered by the probe Messenger, have revealed dipolar nature of the magnetic field, which means it has an orientation to the north and south, just like Earth.

These fields are typically caused by what is known as the dynamo effect, which occurs when a liquid core rotates. But most dynamic models produce fields thousands of times stronger than that Mercury generate.

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Case Western Reserve believe they have found the explanation for this anomaly: a mixture of iron and sulfur could induce the production of iron flakes inside the planet. researchers believe that sulfur is guilty of partial melting of the planet's core, its presence in this context is analogous to strewing salt on snow. Starting March of 2011, the probe Messenger will orbit for a year around the planet Mercury, for carrying out detailed studies about its magnetic field.

Quick facts about Mercury

  • Circumference at Equator: 15,329.1 km
  • Mass: 330,104,000,000,000 billion kg (0.055 x Earth)
  • Average Distance from Sun: 57,909,227 km (0.39 AU)
  • Known Satellites: None
  • Notable Satellites: None
  • Length of Orbit: 87.97 Earth days
  • Surface Temperature: -173 to 427°C

All Fun Facts about Mercury

  • Flakes of iron snow could be falling inside the planet Mercury, according to a new experiment. This hot metal snowfall might help generate Mercury's puzzling magnetic field.
  • Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun.
  • Mercury’s temperatures are rising up to 400° Celsius or 750° Fahrenheit, on the side that is facing the Sun.
  • Mercury’s temperatures on its dark side can be as low as -200° Celsius or -328° Fahrenheit.
  • Mercury has a magnetic field, which is still a mystery for the scientists, as the planet cooled down very long time ago, and the question is: where does the magnetic field comes from?
  • Although Mercury is the closest planet to Sun, there is ice and frozen organic matter in its craters located at the North Pole.
  • Mercury has been known since at least the time of the Sumerians (3rd millennium BC). It was sometimes given separate names for its apparitions as a morning star and as an evening star. Greek astronomers knew, however, that the two names referred to the same body. Heraclitus even believed that Mercury and Venus orbit the Sun, not the Earth.


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