HOMEWORK HELPER
I need help with a report about...


The Swiftest Planet
Sun-scorched Mercury is only slightly larger than Earth's moon. Like the moon, Mercury has very little atmosphere to stop impacts, and it is covered with craters. Mercury's dayside is super-heated by the sun, but at night temperatures drop hundreds of degrees below freezing. Ice may even exist in craters. Mercury's egg-shaped orbit takes it around the sun every 88 days.

Mercury Icon
Just the Facts
Just the Facts
Dig Deeper
Dig Deeper
Dig Deeper
Create Your Report
Create Your Report
Even More Stuff...
Even More Stuff...
  News Features People Extreme Facts Dictionary

Catastrophic Crash
The impact that created Mercury's Texas-sized Caloris Basin equaled roughly 1,000,000,000,000 1-megaton hydrogen bombs. The shockwave from the collision was so powerful it created a hilly region the size of Germany and France on the opposite side of the planet.
Catastrophic Crash
Double Sunrise
Because of Mercury's elliptical -- egg-shaped -- orbit and sluggish rotation, the morning sun appears to rise briefly, set and rise again from some parts of the planet's surface. The same thing happens in reverse at sunset.
Double Sunrise
Made in the Shade
Even though it will be working in temperatures up to 840 degrees Fahrenheit (about 450 degrees Celsius), sensitive parts of the MESSENGER spacecraft will remain at a pleasant room temperature thanks to a heat-resistant ceramic cloth sunshade.
Made in the Shade
Running Hot and Cold
Mercury is not only one of the hottest places in our solar system -- it's also among the coldest. As darkness falls on Mercury, temperatures can drop more than 1,080 degrees Fahrenheit (600 degrees Celsius).
Running Hot and Cold
Speed Racer
True to its namesake (the speedy messenger of ancient Roman gods), Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system. It zips around our sun at an average of 172 thousand kph (107 thousand mph) -- about 65 thousand kph (40 thousand mph) faster than Earth. A year on Mercury is equal to 88 Earth days.
Speed Racer
The Long and the Short of It
Mercury completes three rotations for every two orbits around the sun. That means if you wanted to stay up from sunrise to sunrise on Mercury, you'd be up for 176 Earth days.
The Long and the Short of It
Artsy Planet
Craters and features on Mercury are named after famous deceased artists, musicians or authors, including children's author Dr. Seuss and dance pioneer Alvin Ailey.
Artsy Planet
Moonless Night
Mercury does not have a moon to brighten it's night skies. Mercury is one of only two planets in our solar system that do not have moons. (Venus is the other one.)
Moonless Night
Solar Power
MESSENGER, the first and only spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury, gathers most of its power from the sun through its solar array. However, since Mercury is extremely close to the sun, the solar arrays are also designed to rotate away from the sun to avoid overheating.
Solar Power
Elusive Planet
When Mariner 10 flew by Mercury (1974 and 1975) the spacecraft was only able to image 45% of the surface. This was due to the spacecraft's period of orbit: Each time the spacecraft flew by the innermost planet the sun happened to be illuminating the same side of Mercury. Scientists and the general public had to wait nearly 35 years between the Mariner 10 and the MESSENGER missions to see for the first time a map of the surface of the planet Mercury.
Elusive Planet
Waterhole
There isn't much on the surface of Mercury other than impact features, such as craters and pits. But within some of those craters and pits there could be water. Evidence has been found to suggest that there is water ice within the permanently shadowed, polar regions on Mercury.
Waterhole
Don't Forget Your Sunglasses
The MESSENGER spacecraft has its own shades to protect it from the light of the sun. This is important since sunlight on Mercury can be as much as 11 times brighter than it is here on Earth. And this sunlight, with harsher heat conditions, can severely damage a spacecraft. So instead of the sleek reflective gear we wear to protect our eyes, the MESSENGER spacecraft must wear a sunshade made out of heat-resistance ceramic cloth.
Don't Forget Your Sunglasses
Catastrophic Crash
The impact that created Mercury's Texas-sized Caloris Basin equaled roughly 1,000,000,000,000 1-megaton hydrogen bombs. The shockwave from the collision was so powerful it created a hilly region the size of Germany and France on the opposite side of the planet.
Catastrophic Crash
Double Sunrise
Because of Mercury's elliptical -- egg-shaped -- orbit and sluggish rotation, the morning sun appears to rise briefly, set and rise again from some parts of the planet's surface. The same thing happens in reverse at sunset.
Double Sunrise
Made in the Shade
Even though it will be working in temperatures up to 840 degrees Fahrenheit (about 450 degrees Celsius), sensitive parts of the MESSENGER spacecraft will remain at a pleasant room temperature thanks to a heat-resistant ceramic cloth sunshade.
Made in the Shade
Running Hot and Cold
Mercury is not only one of the hottest places in our solar system -- it's also among the coldest. As darkness falls on Mercury, temperatures can drop more than 1,080 degrees Fahrenheit (600 degrees Celsius).
Running Hot and Cold
Speed Racer
True to its namesake (the speedy messenger of ancient Roman gods), Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system. It zips around our sun at an average of 172 thousand kph (107 thousand mph) -- about 65 thousand kph (40 thousand mph) faster than Earth. A year on Mercury is equal to 88 Earth days.
Speed Racer
The Long and the Short of It
Mercury completes three rotations for every two orbits around the sun. That means if you wanted to stay up from sunrise to sunrise on Mercury, you'd be up for 176 Earth days.
The Long and the Short of It
Artsy Planet
Craters and features on Mercury are named after famous deceased artists, musicians or authors, including children's author Dr. Seuss and dance pioneer Alvin Ailey.
Artsy Planet
Moonless Night
Mercury does not have a moon to brighten it's night skies. Mercury is one of only two planets in our solar system that do not have moons. (Venus is the other one.)
Moonless Night
Solar Power
MESSENGER, the first and only spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury, gathers most of its power from the sun through its solar array. However, since Mercury is extremely close to the sun, the solar arrays are also designed to rotate away from the sun to avoid overheating.
Solar Power
Elusive Planet
When Mariner 10 flew by Mercury (1974 and 1975) the spacecraft was only able to image 45% of the surface. This was due to the spacecraft's period of orbit: Each time the spacecraft flew by the innermost planet the sun happened to be illuminating the same side of Mercury. Scientists and the general public had to wait nearly 35 years between the Mariner 10 and the MESSENGER missions to see for the first time a map of the surface of the planet Mercury.
Elusive Planet
Waterhole
There isn't much on the surface of Mercury other than impact features, such as craters and pits. But within some of those craters and pits there could be water. Evidence has been found to suggest that there is water ice within the permanently shadowed, polar regions on Mercury.
Waterhole
Don't Forget Your Sunglasses
The MESSENGER spacecraft has its own shades to protect it from the light of the sun. This is important since sunlight on Mercury can be as much as 11 times brighter than it is here on Earth. And this sunlight, with harsher heat conditions, can severely damage a spacecraft. So instead of the sleek reflective gear we wear to protect our eyes, the MESSENGER spacecraft must wear a sunshade made out of heat-resistance ceramic cloth.
Don't Forget Your Sunglasses