1. Education

Mercury Pictures Gallery

By

Because Mercury is so close to the Sun, it is hard to directly observe from Earth, except during twilight. Mercury makes an appearance indirectly, however 13 times each century, Earth observers can watch Mercury pass across the face of the Sun, an event called a transit.

Scientists used to think that the same side of Mercury always faces the Sun, but in 1965 astronomers discovered that the planet rotates three times during every two orbits. Mercury speeds around the Sun every 88 days, traveling through space at nearly 50 kilometers (31 miles) per second faster than any other planet.

Rather than an atmosphere, Mercury possesses a thin exosphere made up of atoms blasted off its surface by the solar wind and striking meteoroids. Because of the planet's extreme surface temperature, the atoms quickly escape into space.

Images 1-12 of 12
Mercury Pictures Gallery - Young CratersYoung CratersMercury Pictures Gallery - The Plane of the EclipticThe Plane of the EclipticMercury Pictures Gallery - Prominent Rayed CratersProminent Rayed CratersMercury Pictures Gallery - Planet MercuryPlanet Mercury
Mercury Pictures Gallery - Planet MercuryPlanet MercuryMercury Pictures Gallery - Mercury: Enhanced ColorMercury: Enhanced ColorMercury Pictures Gallery - Mercury's South PoleMercury's South PoleMercury Pictures Gallery - Mercury's Caloris BasinMercury's Caloris Basin
Mercury Pictures Gallery - Fresh Crater in Center of Older Crater BasinFresh Crater in Center of Older Crater BasinMercury Pictures Gallery - Filling the GapsFilling the GapsMercury Pictures Gallery - Brahms CraterBrahms CraterMercury Pictures Gallery - 300 Kilometer Long Scarp300 Kilometer Long Scarp
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Space / Astronomy
  4. Stars, Planets, and Galaxies
  5. Solar System
  6. Planets
  7. Mercury
  8. Mercury Pictures Gallery

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.