After leaving the surface of the sun, we have now zoomed to it’s closest planet – Mercury.
If you were standing on its rocky surface, the sun would appear three times larger and ten times brighter than it does on Earth. You would see craters everywhere, just like our moon. In fact, Mercury is only slightly larger than our moon, making it the smallest planet in the solar system.
Mercury is the least explored planet of the inner solar system. It has no atmosphere, no seasons and no moon.
It travels through space at nearly 29 miles per second. A year on Mercury, or how long it takes to speed around the sun, is only 88 Earth days, making it the fastest planet as well.
If you lived there, you’d have a birthday every three months.
A day on Mercury is a completely different story, taking 59 days to fully rotate. It’s nothing like a day on Earth, where the sun rises and sets. You would have to wait 180 days to see a sunrise.
Because it’s so close to the sun, you might think Mercury would also be the hottest planet, but that’s actually not the case. While it’s still scorching hot, up to 800 degrees, it also sees extremely low temperatures. This is because Mercury has weak gravity, making it hard to hold on to any atmosphere at all.
Because it doesn’t have an atmosphere to trap heat, the sun’s energy quickly escapes, allowing nighttime temperatures to plunge to almost negative 300 degrees. This makes Mercury the most extreme planet in terms of temperature range.
Next week, we will zoom to the hottest planet in our solar system, Venus.