Mercury Essay

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The planet I chose to report on is Mercury. Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system and is the closest planet to the sun. It was named after a Roman god, Mercury, who was the god of commerce and trade. He was also known to be fast and Mercury was named after him because it orbits the sun every 88 days. Mercury is not easy to see from Earth because of how close it is to the sun. In 1631, Pierre Gassendi saw Mercury pass in front of the sun by using a telescope. Every one hundred years, Mercury will pass in front of the sun thirteen times and it can be viewed from Earth. Since the planet is so close to the sun, the temperatures are extreme. During the day when Mercury is closest to the Sun (about 28 miles away) the temperature can get to be over 800 degrees. In the nighttime, Mercury moves away from the Sun (about 45 miles away) and the temperature can drop as much as -275 degrees. The best time to try and see Mercury from Earth is during twilight or sunset. The next time Mercury will cross in front of the sun will be on May 9, 2016. Mercury travels around space at nearly 30 miles per second which is faster than any other planet. One Mercury solar day equals 175.97 Earth days. It is also the second densest planet in the solar system. Mercury also has a small mass and its gravity is about a third as strong as Earth’s. A person who weighs a hundred pounds on Earth will weigh about 38 pounds on Mercury. Mercury’s weaker gravity makes it hard to have an atmosphere for a long period of time. That makes the planet dry and airless. The atmosphere is made up of hydrogen, helium, sodium, potassium, oxygen and calcium. But the layer of gases does not last and is weak. Since there is very little atmosphere to protect it, Mercury is hit by meteors and comets. There are some smooth plains on the surface but there is also The Caloris Basin which happened

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