Mercury: It’s Hot and It’s Cold

Throughout 2015, we’ll be exploring the Solar System. In January, we visited the Sun. Today, we begin our exploration of the planet Mercury.

Let’s start with a few basic facts that pretty much everyone knows. Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System (unless you insist on calling Pluto a planet). Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. Mercury is one of the coldest places in the Solar System.

Wait… coldest?

Fe01 Mercury Singing 1

While it’s true that the dayside of Mercury is scorching hot (800 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature on the night side can drop as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this enormous temperature discrepancy is Mercury’s atmosphere, or rather Mercury’s lack of an atmosphere.

Atmospheres enable planets to trap and redistribute heat, maintaining a relatively constant global temperature. So planets without atmospheres (like Mercury) cook on one side and freeze on the other.

This is just one of many reasons why nobody wants to live on Mercury.

Fe01 Mercury Singing 2

Mercury is also the densest planet in the Solar System.

 

Links

How Hot is Mercury? from Space.com.

What is the Hottest Planet in the Solar System? from Universe Today.

2 Responses to Mercury: It’s Hot and It’s Cold

  1. I love this series. The information is fun, and the illustrations have such character!

    Like

  2. […] several recent posts (here and here), I’ve said that nobody wants to live on Mercury. It’s too hot. It’s also too cold, […]

    Like

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