Mercury

The closest planet to the Sun is naturally very hot. It’s also small and rocky, with loads of craters.

Mercury coloured for mineral composition

The colours shown here are not what Mercury looks like to our eyes. The picture has been coloured to show different chemicals and minerals on the surface.

The Messenger probe took many pictures of Mercury before crashing into the planet in 2015. This crash was part of the mission plan!

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury factfile 
Position from the sun1st planet
Diameter 4,880 km
Distance from sun58,000,000 km
Day length 59 days
Year length 88 days
Number of moons0
Surface temperature-173 to +427 °C
Gravity3.7 m/s2
AtmosphereNone
FUN FACT:Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system, less than half the diameter of Earth.
Mercury's Apollodorus crater

This crater, called Apollodorus, is near the centre of the Caloris basin. There’s a big ancient temple in Rome called the Pantheon. Apollodorus was probably the Pantheon’s architect.

The craters on Mercury are all named after artists (including architects!) writers, and musicians.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


Activity

Research five of the craters on Mercury and produce a poster or website which explains the achievements of the people they are named after.

van gogh's starry night painting
Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Tanno and Iguda visited craters named after Dr Seuss (writer), Van Gogh (artist), Mark Twain (writer) and Hokusai (artist). On their postcard from Mercury, you can see a picture from each of these artists. In your poster/website do include images as well as text about the five people whose craters you research.

hokusai wave
Japanese artist Hokusai’s Wave

You can find out all about the crater’s on Mercury on this Wikipedia page. You could make it really fun by choosing craters which start with the same letters as each of the letters in your name.


You can go to the previous secret pages by clicking the planets below.

The MoonVenus
Moon landing sites for Apollo missions