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Top Mercury Facts

Top Mercury Facts

Mercury is one of the most interesting planets in our solar system. This VideoJug clip explores some of the more interesting facts about Mercury, the planet closest to our sun.

I'm Robert Massey and I'm here from the Royal Astronomical Society, which is one of the biggest astronomical organizations in the world. We look after the interests of astronomers, not just in the UK, but across the world. What I'm going to do today is give you a few pointers to get you started in astronomy which, I think, is one of the most incredibly interesting subjects there is.

Mercury is the planet in our solar system that is closest to the sun. Of course, that means that it's really rather hot on the side facing the sun but what you might not be aware of is that it rotates very very slowly. That means the night side of Mercury gets incredibly cold.

It holds the distinction of being one of the hottest places but also one of the coldest in the solar system, too. Perhaps even more extraordinarily, Mercury has poles and at those poles, there are craters that so deep that sunlight never reaches down. We just think there might even be water there.

So the extraordinary thing is that Mercury, despite being so close to the sun and generally so hot, actually has some very very cold places too, and there might even be ice on this really baked world which I find a very bizarre thing to think about. Now, with Mercury, it's also actually quite difficult to get to. It takes a lot of energy to send a spacecraft from the Earth to Mercury.

Actually, more than it does to send it further out into the solar system. That's why we've only so far, sent only a couple of space probes there, although there is another one on the way in a few years time. So, it's an exotic place, it's really rather small, it's pretty much baron, rocky, pulverized by the material in the solar system, covered with craters just like our moon.

I don't think there is any real prospect of us ever living there or probably people ever even travelling there but nonetheless, it is a really interesting record of the early beginnings of our solar system. .