The Planet Mercury: Astronomy and Space for Kids – FreeSchool

You’re watching FreeSchool!Mercury, the first planet from the sun, is
also the smallest planetin the solar system. It is even smaller than
some moons in thesolar system! Compared to other planets, little
is known aboutMercury, despite the fact that it has been
observed by humans forlonger than 2,000 years. Because it is so close to the sun, only about
36 million milesaway, it usually cannot be seen easily. The
only time to seeMercury from Earth is during the twilight
of sunrise or sunset,however, when Mercury can be seen, it shines
brightly. Mercury was named for the Roman messenger
of the gods, often shownwearing winged sandals because of his great
speed. Like the RomanMercury, the planet Mercury is very fast.
It has the shortest orbitof any planet in the solar system, completing
an orbit around thesun in just 88 days. Although Mercury orbits
the sun much morequickly than the Earth, it takes much longer
for it to rotate. Earth rotates once every 24 hours, but Mercury
only rotates once every 59 days. Although it is the closest planet to the sun,
Mercury is not thehottest. Because it has almost no atmosphere,
the heat that comesto it from the sun quickly escapes back into
space. Still, theenvironment on Mercury is harsh. In the sunlight,
temperaturesreach hundreds of degrees. At night, temperatures
fall far belowfreezing. One of the four inner planets in the Solar
System, Mercury has arocky body, like the Earth. Mercury’s surface
is solid, and coveredwith craters. It has no moons of its own,
and it has no rings. Inappearance, Mercury closely resembles our
moon!Two spacecraft have visited mercury. In 1975,
Mariner 10 providedthe first up-close images of Mercury’s surface,
mapping about 45%. In 2011, the MESSENGER mission
achieved an orbitaround Mercury which has allowed much of the
remaining surface tobe mapped. Although its surface is quiet now, the Messenger
spacecraft discovered evidence that Mercuryonce had active volcanoes on its surface.
Shield volcanoes and ancient lava flows wererevealed in the images that Messenger relayed
to earth. Scientists continue to study Mercury, hoping
to learn more about this small, mysteriousplanet. I hope you enjoyed learning more about
Mercury today. Goodbye till next time!

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