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However, when this area was first visited, by Mariner 10, this zero meridian was in darkness, so it was impossible to select a feature on the surface to define the exact position of the meridian. [148] (Note that most such medieval reports of transits were later taken as observations of sunspots. [13] Observation of Mercury is complicated by its proximity to the Sun, as it is lost in the Sun's glare for much of the time. Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD), A planet in an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away may offer a clue to a mystery closer to home: the hypothesized "Planet Nine.". From an average distance of 36 million miles (58 million kilometers), Mercury is 0.4 astronomical units away from the Sun. Friedrich Bessel used Schröter's drawings to erroneously estimate the rotation period as 24 hours and an axial tilt of 70°. It has a thin atmosphere, and it doesn’t have any moons. the orbital period. Despite its proximity to the Sun, Mercury is not the hottest planet in our solar system – that title belongs to nearby Venus, thanks to its dense atmosphere. The planet Mercury is mainly made up of iron. [108], Numerical simulations show that a future secular orbital resonant perihelion interaction with Jupiter may cause the eccentricity of Mercury's orbit to increase to the point where there is a 1% chance that the planet will collide with Venus within the next five billion years. Radioactive decay of elements within Mercury's crust is another source of helium, as well as sodium and potassium. Mercury's highly eccentric, egg-shaped orbit takes the planet as close as 29 million miles (47 million kilometers) and as far as 43 million miles (70 million kilometers) from the Sun. Mercury takes 59 Earth days to make one full rotation. T With a radius of 1,516 miles (2,440 kilometers), Mercury is a little more than 1/3 the width of Earth. [79] In 2008, magnesium was discovered by MESSENGER. Natural sources of mercury include volcanoes, forest fires, cannabar (ore) and fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. [128], Because the shift of 0.15 revolutions in a year makes up a seven-year cycle (0.15 × 7 ≈ 1.0), in the seventh year Mercury follows almost exactly (earlier by 7 days) the sequence of phenomena it showed seven years before. Scientists have found evidence that Mercury’s inner core is indeed solid and that it is very nearly the same size as Earth’s inner core. [139] Modern Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese cultures refer to the planet literally as the "water star" (水星), based on the Five elements. [121][122], Nonetheless, the brightest (full phase) appearance of Mercury is an essentially impossible time for practical observation, because of the extreme proximity of the Sun. Care must be taken to ensure the instrument isn't pointed directly towards the Sun because of the risk for eye damage. “The mercury survey meter will help us not only for mercury-contaminated site assessments in Myanmar but also … But Mercury is the fastest planet, zipping around the Sun every 88 Earth days. [171] Mariner 10 provided the first close-up images of Mercury's surface, which immediately showed its heavily cratered nature, and revealed many other types of geological features, such as the giant scarps that were later ascribed to the effect of the planet shrinking slightly as its iron core cools. In the astronomical literature, the term 'closest planets' often means 'the two planets that approach each other most closely'. [24] Essentially because Mercury is closest to the Sun, when taking an average over time, Mercury is the closest planet to the Earth,[97] and - in that measure - it is the closest planet to each of the other planets in the Solar System. [70], The icy regions are estimated to contain about 1014–1015 kg of ice,[71] and may be covered by a layer of regolith that inhibits sublimation. [185][186][187] The spacecraft's impact with Mercury occurred near 3:26 PM EDT on April 30, 2015, leaving a crater estimated to be 16 m (52 ft) in diameter. Along with Venus, Earth, and Mars, Mercury is one of the rocky planets. Mercury formed about 4.5 billion years ago when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust together to form this small planet nearest the Sun. With a radius of 1,516 miles (2,440 kilometers), Mercury is a little more than 1/3 the width of Earth. All except two of the planets (Venus and Mercury) in our Solar System have natural satellites called moons. • Mercury has a molten core. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Mercury would be about as big as a blueberry. The diagram illustrates the effects of the eccentricity, showing Mercury's orbit overlaid with a circular orbit having the same semi-major axis. The MESSENGER observations showed the reconnection rate is ten times higher at Mercury, but its proximity to the Sun only accounts for about a third of the reconnection rate observed by MESSENGER. This is because Mercury's maximum western elongation occurs only during early autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, whereas its greatest eastern elongation happens only during late winter in the Southern Hemisphere. [68] Water ice strongly reflects radar, and observations by the 70-meter Goldstone Solar System Radar and the VLA in the early 1990s revealed that there are patches of high radar reflection near the poles. Four Earth days after perihelion, the Sun's normal apparent motion resumes. Visit NASA Space Place for more kid-friendly facts. [189] Launched on October 20, 2018, BepiColombo is expected to reach Mercury in 2025. that title belongs to nearby Venus, thanks to its dense atmosphere. The first orbital image of Mercury was obtained on March 29, 2011. 2 , where [113] In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity provided the explanation for the observed precession, by formalizing gravitation as being mediated by the curvature of spacetime. For the same reason, there are two points on Mercury's equator, 180 degrees apart in longitude, at either of which, around perihelion in alternate Mercurian years (once a Mercurian day), the Sun passes overhead, then reverses its apparent motion and passes overhead again, then reverses a second time and passes overhead a third time, taking a total of about 16 Earth-days for this entire process. [134] The Romans named the planet after the swift-footed Roman messenger god, Mercury (Latin Mercurius), which they equated with the Greek Hermes, because it moves across the sky faster than any other planet. its orbit appears vertical) and is at maximum elongation from the Sun (28°) and also when the Sun is 18° below the horizon, so the sky is just completely dark. [159][160] The theory that Mercury's rotation was synchronous had become widely held, and it was a surprise to astronomers when these radio observations were announced. A point initially pointing toward the Sun will point in the same direction after one rotation (59 days or 2/3 of the orbital period), but that point will no longer be directed toward the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. [172] Unfortunately, the same face of the planet was lit at each of Mariner 10's close approaches. [72] By comparison, the Antarctic ice sheet on Earth has a mass of about 4×1018 kg, and Mars's south polar cap contains about 1016 kg of water. SpyMissions: Special enemy variants have a chance of spawning during Spy missions. A device called SHERLOC will help the next Mars rover detect chemicals linked to the existence of life. Credit: John A. Kelley, USDA Natural Resources Conservation, CC BY 2.0. Aerobraking is ruled out because Mercury has a negligible atmosphere. [166] Most of the planet has been mapped by the Arecibo radar telescope, with 5 km (3.1 mi) resolution, including polar deposits in shadowed craters of what may be water ice.[167]. [90], Mercury's axial tilt is almost zero,[91] with the best measured value as low as 0.027 degrees. Mercury likes to keep things simple. [163] This means that Schiaparelli's and Antoniadi's maps were not "wrong". It takes 87.969 Earth days to complete an orbit. Director, NASA Planetary Science Division: [81] Many of the planet's surface features, particularly the albedo features, take their names from Antoniadi's map. Mercury likes to keep things simple. From this distance, it takes sunlight 3.2 minutes to trave… Because it’s the closest planet to the sun, it goes around the Sun in just 88 Earth days. [13] The mean apparent magnitude is 0.23 while the standard deviation of 1.78 is the largest of any planet. The next full Moon will be on the morning of Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, The Moon will appear full for about three days, making this a full Moon weekend. Mercury attains inferior conjunction (nearest approach to Earth) every 116 Earth days on average,[3] but this interval can range from 105 days to 129 days due to the planet's eccentric orbit. At middle latitudes, Mercury is more often and easily visible from the Southern Hemisphere than from the Northern. Discover more about the natural world beyond Earth's stratosphere. The spacecraft encountered magnetic "tornadoes" – twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting the planetary magnetic field to interplanetary space – that were up to 800 km wide or a third of the radius of the planet. What drives Perseverance's mission and what will it do at the Red Planet? One of five planets visible with the naked eye a, … Mercury's magnetic field is offset relative to the planet's equator. According to a new UN report, the amount of the planet's natural resources extracted for human use has tripled in 40 years. This would indicate an interaction between the magnetosphere and the planet's surface. The verbs "rotate" and "revolve" mean doing rotation and revolution, respectively. The space environment—dust impacts and solar-wind particles—causes the rays to darken with time. Mercury's environment is not conducive to life as we know it. [80] Studies indicate that, at times, sodium emissions are localized at points that correspond to the planet's magnetic poles. [105], The original reason astronomers thought it was synchronously locked was that, whenever Mercury was best placed for observation, it was always nearly at the same point in its 3:2 resonance, hence showing the same face. The Planet Mercury: With a mean radius of 2440 km and a mass of 3.3022×10 23 kg, Mercury is the smallest planet in our Solar System – equivalent in size to … In astronomy, the words "rotation" and "revolution" have different meanings. The Caloris basin is the largest single feature on the planet, probably caused by the impact of a large meteorite. [109][110], In 1859, the French mathematician and astronomer Urbain Le Verrier reported that the slow precession of Mercury's orbit around the Sun could not be completely explained by Newtonian mechanics and perturbations by the known planets. The first of two spacecraft to visit the planet was Mariner 10, which mapped about 45% of its surface from 1974 to 1975. NASA's InSight lander has been using its robotic arm to help the heat probe known as the "mole" burrow into Mars. A Mercury-bound spacecraft launched from Earth must travel over 91 million kilometres (57 million miles) into the Sun's gravitational potential well. Density: 13.5336 grams per cubic centimeter 5. [146][147] In the 12th century, Ibn Bajjah observed "two planets as black spots on the face of the Sun", which was later suggested as the transit of Mercury and/or Venus by the Maragha astronomer Qotb al-Din Shirazi in the 13th century. Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 80 2. 3 There also will be a partial penumbral eclipse of the Moon. [67], Although the daylight temperature at the surface of Mercury is generally extremely high, observations strongly suggest that ice (frozen water) exists on Mercury. The probe finished a one-year mapping mission,[181] and then entered a one-year extended mission into 2013. It has a solid surface that is covered with craters like our Moon. 1. Phillips Davis News Possible signs of life found on Venus A gas has been found in the clouds of Venus that could have been created by microbes. Mercury can be easily seen from the tropics and subtropics more than from higher latitudes. a However, accurate modeling based on a realistic model of tidal response has demonstrated that Mercury was captured into the 3:2 spin-orbit state at a very early stage of its history, within 20 (more likely, 10) million years after its formation. [117][118], Mercury's apparent magnitude is calculated to vary between −2.48 (brighter than Sirius) around superior conjunction and +7.25 (below the limit of naked-eye visibility) around inferior conjunction. People's Voice voting is underway. [64][c], Despite its small size and slow 59-day-long rotation, Mercury has a significant, and apparently global, magnetic field. Biotic and Abiotic. [155], In June 1962, Soviet scientists at the Institute of Radio-engineering and Electronics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, led by Vladimir Kotelnikov, became the first to bounce a radar signal off Mercury and receive it, starting radar observations of the planet. Mercury can come as near as 82.2 gigametres (0.549 astronomical units; 51.1 million miles) to Earth, and that is slowly declining: The next approach to within 82.1 Gm (51.0 million miles) is in 2679, and to within 82.0 Gm (51.0 million miles) in 4487, but it will not be closer to Earth than 80 Gm (50 million miles) until 28,622. It is the closest planet to the Sun, but it’s actually not the hottest. It is "new" at inferior conjunction and "full" at superior conjunction. Mercury may have water ice at its north and south poles inside deep craters, but only in regions of permanent shadow. [169] A proposed alternative approach would use a solar sail to attain a Mercury-synchronous orbit around the Sun. Kid-Friendly Mercury A 1970 International Astronomical Union resolution suggests that longitudes be measured positively in the westerly direction on Mercury. There is evidence that it is partly molten, or liquid. MESSENGER found high proportions of calcium, helium, hydroxide, magnesium, oxygen, potassium, silicon and sodium. [74][75] Because of the quantities of these ions that were detected in Mercury's space environment, scientists surmise that these molecules were blasted from the surface or exosphere by the solar wind. The potential energy liberated by moving down the Sun's potential well becomes kinetic energy, requiring another large delta-v change to do anything other than rapidly pass by Mercury. π [119], Mercury can, like several other planets and the brightest stars, be seen during a total solar eclipse.[120]. [87], Mercury has the most eccentric orbit of all the planets; its eccentricity is 0.21 with its distance from the Sun ranging from 46,000,000 to 70,000,000 km (29,000,000 to 43,000,000 mi). As a result, only two space probes have visited it so far. Eating contaminated fish is the number one cause of mercury exposure in America. This site is maintained by the Planetary Science Communications team at, The smallest planet in our solar system and nearest to the Sun, Mercury is only slightly larger than Earth's Moon. [84], It is likely that this magnetic field is generated by a dynamo effect, in a manner similar to the magnetic field of Earth. In the other alternate Mercurian years, the same thing happens at the other of these two points. The Banish Mercury off the Planet contest, originally called the Big Man on Planet until 2018, names winners in three categories: Distributor that recycles the most pounds of mercury overall. [104], The rare 3:2 resonant tidal locking is stabilized by the variance of the tidal force along Mercury's eccentric orbit, acting on a permanent dipole component of Mercury's mass distribution. [114][115], Einstein's formula for the perihelion shift per revolution is Because the planet has no atmosphere to retain that heat, nighttime temperatures on the surface can drop to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 180 degrees Celsius). [170], The first spacecraft to visit Mercury was NASA's Mariner 10 (1974–1975). Mercury is best observed at the first and last quarter, although they are phases of lesser brightness. [174], The spacecraft made three close approaches to Mercury, the closest of which took it to within 327 km (203 mi) of the surface. 80, No. [132] The spacecraft used the gravity of Venus to adjust its orbital velocity so that it could approach Mercury, making it both the first spacecraft to use this gravitational "slingshot" effect and the first NASA mission to visit multiple planets. To this end, the probe carried imaging devices that gathered much-higher-resolution images of much more of Mercury than Mariner 10, assorted spectrometers to determine abundances of elements in the crust, and magnetometers and devices to measure velocities of charged particles. It is important to be clear about the meaning of 'closeness'. According to measurements taken by Mariner 10, it is about 1.1% the strength of Earth's. Mercury and Venus occult each other every few centuries, and the event of May 28, 1737 is the only one historically observed, having been seen by John Bevis at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. The Sun's total angular displacement during its apparent retrograde motion as seen from the surface of Mercury is ~1.23°, while the Sun's angular diameter when the apparent retrograde motion begins and ends is ~1.71°, increasing to ~1.73° at perihelion (midway through the retrograde motion). The battered surface of Mercury. Mercury's surface temperatures are both extremely hot and cold. 'It's Not Completely Nuts' - A new explanation for the rocky world's jumbled landscape opens a possibility that it could have had ingredients for habitability", "The Chaotic Terrains of Mercury Reveal a History of Planetary Volatile Retention and Loss in the Innermost Solar System", "NASA Reference Publication 1349; Venus: Twelve year planetary ephemeris, 1995–2006", "NASA spacecraft now circling Mercury – a first", "MESSENGER: Mercury and Ancient Cultures", "Modification of the Earlier Indian Planetary Theory by the Kerala Astronomers (c. 1500 AD) and the Implied Heliocentric Picture of Planetary Motion", "Mercury Passes in Front of the Sun, as Seen From Mars", "MESSENGER to test theory of shrinking Mercury", "MESSENGER Engine Burn Puts Spacecraft on Track for Venus", "Countdown to MESSENGER's Closest Approach with Mercury", "MESSENGER Gains Critical Gravity Assist for Mercury Orbital Observations", "NASA extends spacecraft's Mercury mission", "NASA Mercury Probe Trying to Survive for Another Month", "NASA's Messenger Mission Is Set to Crash Into Mercury", "Messenger's Collision Course With Mercury", "ESA gives go-ahead to build BepiColombo", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mercury_(planet)&oldid=995252510, Astronomical objects known since antiquity, CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of November 2020, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Wikipedia indefinitely semi-protected pages, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, Short description is different from Wikidata, Pages using multiple image with auto scaled images, Articles containing Chinese-language text, Pages using Sister project links with wikidata mismatch, Pages using Sister project links with default search, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎, Словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ, Srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 20 December 2020, at 00:55. 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