Mercury: 10 shocking facts about the nearest planet to the sun you never knew

1. A year on Mercury is just 88 days long.

One solar day (the time from noon to noon on the planet’s surface) on Mercury lasts the equivalent of 176 Earth days while the sidereal day (the time for one rotation in relation to a fixed point) lasts59 Earth days. 

2. Mercury has been known to humanity since ancient times.

Since it is visible to the naked eye, nobody knows when it was discovered precisely. The first mentions of the planet are believed to be around 3000 BC by the Sumerians.

3. Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System.

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Mercury is just 4,879 Kilometres across its equator, compared with 12,742 Kilometres for the Earth.

4. Mercury has the most extreme temperature fluctuations in the Solar System.

The temperature during the day can reach 840 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but at night, temperatures can get as low as minus 275 F (minus 170 C). The difference between both the extremes is 1100 F, which is the most extreme in our solar system.

5. Mercury is the second densest planet.

Each cubic centimeter has a density of 5.4 grams, with only the Earth having a higher density.

6. Mercury has no moons or rings.

Image: NASA

This is because of its low gravity and lack of atmosphere.

7. Mercury is only the second hottest planet.

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Venus is hotter than Mercury despite being further away from the Sun. Its mean temperature is 462°C. This is because of the high concentration of carbon dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere, which works to produce an intense greenhouse effect.

8. Only two spacecraft have ever visited Mercury.

Owing to its proximity to the Sun, Mercury is a difficult planet to visit. During 1974 and 1975, Mariner 10 flew by Mercury three times. On August 3rd, 2004, the Messenger probe was launched, which is the most recent one to visit Mercury.

9. Mercury has more craters and impact marks than any other planet.

Image: NASA

Unlike many other planets that “self-heal” through natural geological processes, Mercury’s surface is covered in craters. Most Mercurian craters are named after famous writers and artists.

10. Mercury has ice.

Scientists think that there is ice inside Mercury’s craters. The planet’s north and south poles are cold and shadowy, allowing them to retain water and ice.

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More from Facts – News Landed

+ Venus: 10 shocking facts about our nearest planet you never knew
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