Did An Ancient Collision Make Mercury What It Is Today?

Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the closest planet to the Sun. With a diameter of just over 3,000 miles, this little planet is no more than 1/3 the size of Earth and no more than 40% bigger than Earth’s moon. On a level where Earth is the size of a baseball, Mercury will be about the size of a golf ball.

Mercury has a very elongated orbit that takes the planet about 28.5 million miles from the Sun at its closest approach, known as PERIHELION, and as a long way away as 43 million miles at its farthest, known as APHELION. At perihelion, the Sun would seem nearly 3 times larger and about eleven times brighter when viewed from the outer lining of Mercury than what we see from the outer lining of Earth (but the sky on Mercury will be black because Mercury has no air). Mercury is so close to the Sun that it’s usually obscured by it, making Mercury difficult to examine from the Earth even although the little planet is no more than 48 to 50 million miles from the Earth at its closest approach.

Traveling at a rate of approximately 108,000 miles per hour, Mercury completes one orbit around the Sun in about 88 Earth-days. The Earth travels about 66,000 miles per hour, and completes one orbit around the Sun every 365 days. Mercury completes a lot more than four orbits of the Sun in one Earth-year. In contrast to the short year, days and nights on Mercury are extremely long. Mercury turns slowly on its axis, taking about 59 Earth-days to perform a single rotation. Mercury only completes three rotations on its axis within the span of two orbits around the Sun. Which means that three days on Mercury last two Mercurian-years.

Mercury was the name of the Roman messenger god who carried messages and performed errands for other gods. Mercury was also the god accountable for watching over trade, commerce, travelers and merchants. Mercury was often associated with peace and prosperity, and was also considered a god of the winds because of his speed. Because Mercury orbits the Sun faster than any other planet in the Solar System, ancient civilizations, including Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, envisioned this speeding “star” as a messenger god within their religions and myths.

Mercury’s surface temperatures vary dramatically, from over 800 degrees Fahrenheit quietly facing the Sun to about minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit quietly facing away. This range in surface temperature between Mercury’s sunlit-side and dark-side is the most extreme for any planet in the Solar System. Mercury simultaneously broils and freezes… literally! An important contributor to the cycle of extreme heat and cold is the fact that Mercury is too small to retain an important atmosphere. Mercury has an atmosphere, but it’s so thin – no more than 1-trillionth the density of Earth’s atmosphere – that it’s practically non-existent. This thin atmosphere prevents Mercury from retaining and circulating heat around the planet. So as the small planet rotates, the medial side no further confronted with the Sun cools dramatically while the medial side facing the Sun roasts.

Mercury’s thin atmosphere contains traces of elements from the solar wind and gases which have been baked from the planet’s crust and surface rocks. A planet retains its atmosphere using its gravitational pull. Mercury does not have sufficient mass to retain – by gravitational pull – an amazing atmosphere. Mercury’s surface gravity is no more than 1/3 of the Earth’s. Which means that a person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would only weigh about 38 pounds on Mercury. Also, a planet as close to the Sun as paykwik kart is even less likely to retain a thick atmosphere when compared to a more distant planet like Earth because it’s constantly being blasted by solar radiation. Charged particles emitted by the Sun are scorching the planet, and this atomic debris does manage to build up, nevertheless the intense heat coupled with Mercury’s weak gravity allows the gases to escape.

Mercury consists of about 70% iron and about 30% silicate material. It’s believed that a lot of of Mercury’s iron is concentrated in its core. This core, the densest of some of the planets in the Solar System, accounts for around 75% of Mercury’s volume. Which means that Mercury’s core is proportionally bigger than any other planet in the Solar System. This core may be responsible for creating Mercury’s weak – significantly less than 1% as strong as Earth’s – but nevertheless detectable magnetic field. This magnetic field is an indication that Mercury’s core contains molten iron and isn’t completely solid. The fluid interior could – like Earth’s core – behave like a molten conductor. As Mercury spins on its axis, the molten iron in the core could generate the magnetic field that surrounds the tiny planet.

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