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Exploring Mercury, NASA's Mission to the Solar System's Hottest Planet

Scientists knew very little about the planet Mercury up until 1974 when NASA launched the Spacecraft Mariner, which opened the door to vast amounts of information.

Christened after the Roman god, Mercury stands as the smallest planet in the solar system and has zero moons. The tiny planet teems with boiling temperatures during the day followed by ultra-freezing winds at night. This is largely due to the lack of an atmosphere on the planet, enabling the weather to vary greatly. Atmospheres are important because they work to contain the heat within a planet. If Earth had no atmosphere, for instance, the temperatures would range from -310 to 230 degrees, making life unsustainable.

Like Earth, Mercury is made of three layers: the core, the mantle, and a thin outer crust. The planet houses several old craters and layers on its surface due to the innumerable asteroids, meteorites, and comets that have crashed into it.

Mercury is a very fast planet, orbiting the sun at 30 miles per second. Mercury is nearly 36 million miles from the sun but is still the closest planet to the sun. Although it circles the sun quickly, one day on Mercury is twice as long as a year on Earth.

The unique and intriguing features of Mercury make it an interesting planet to study, overall expanding knowledge about the solar system and its relationship to Earth.

[Source: Britannica Space]

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