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Mercury is the second smallest planet in our solar system, (after Pluto) and is about 3,031 miles (4,878 km) in diameter.

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Mercury is the second smallest planet in our solar system, (after Pluto) and is about 3,031 miles (4,878 km) in diameter. Mercury is a bit over on third of the diameter of the Earth and is slightly larger than the Earth’s moon. Mercury is closest to the sun with almost no atmosphere.

Mercury’s Orbit And Distance From The Sun:

Mercury is almost to the sun that it can only be seen at sunrise or sunset. Mercury is just over a third as far from the Earth is, it is 0.387 on average from the sun. Mercury is also the fastest moving planet in our solar system.  Because of its speed, it is named after Mercury, the mythical Roman winged messenger.  There are no seasons on Mercury.  Seasons are caused by the tilt of the axis relative to the planet’s orbit.

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Temperature Range:

Mercury has a huge range in temperatures.  Its surface ranges in temperatures from 270* F to 800* F (- 168*c to 427*c).  During the very long daytime (88-Earth days long), the temperatures are very high (the second highest in the solar system only.  Venus is hotter than Mercury. During the long night the thin atmosphere lets the heat dissipate and the temperature drops quickly

Length Of A Day And Year On Mercury:

Mercury revolves around the sun very quickly, but rotates around its axis very slowly.  One day on Mercury (sunrise to sunrise) is longer than one year on Mercury (one orbit around the sun).

Mercurian Year:

A year on Mercury takes 87.97 Earth days; it takes 87.97 Earth days for Mercury to orbit the sun once.  

Mercurian Sidereal Day:

Each sidereal day on Mercury takes 58.65 Earth days. It takes Mercury 58.65 days (2/3’s of its year) to rotate around its axis once.

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Mercury has a density of 5,430 kg/m, slightly less than that of the Earth.  Mercury is the second densest planet in the solar system (after Earth) because of its large iron core.  Mercury is a heavily cratered planet.  Cratering on Mercury triggered volcanic eruptions that filled much of the surrounding area.  The largest crater on Mercury is the Caloris Basin, which is 800 miles (1,300 km) across and may have been formes by Asteroid hitting Mercury.  Many craters on Mercury have been named for writers, musicians, painters, and other artists.e.g. Beethoven, Shelly, Michelangelo etc.

There are also areas of relatively flat planes on Mercury; these are called Planitas.  Lines of mountainous cliffs, rupes scar the surface of Mercury.  These long lines were probably formed when the planet cooled about 4 billion years ago, causing these cracks to form.

Spacecraft Visits:

Mercury was visited by NASA’S MARINER 10 in 1973 and 1974 and its surface was mapped by this spacecraft.

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