Mercury and Venus, unlike most rocky planets in our Solar System, are typically not considered suitable places for life to exist; their harsh conditions make them unsuitable as candidates for life support systems. Yet engineers have created spacecraft capable of withstanding these inhospitable worlds’ harsh environment.
Scientists have recently discovered that Venus’ atmosphere contains phosphine, an organic compound likely produced by microbes. This discovery has raised hopes of finding signs of life on Venus.
It’s the closest planet to the Sun
Mercury is both the smallest planet and closest one to our Sun. It has an orbit that’s slightly longer than Earth, yet spins faster; and its surface has been hit by many meteoroids throughout its 4.6 billion-year existence, leaving many craters. Even with its diminutive size, it still manages to maintain an atmospheric composition of hydrogen, oxygen, sodium and water vapor that are similar to Venus.
Mercury not only absorbs sunlight and heat from the Sun, but it also radiates this energy back out into space. Mercury’s side facing towards it reaches temperatures as high as 425 degrees Celsius while its opposite side – facing away from it – sees temperatures as low as -193 degrees Celsius due to Mercury’s thick atmosphere trapping its energy.
Mercury stands alone among our solar system planets in that it lacks moons; thus it can only be observed from Earth when near its horizon, appearing before Sun rise and disappearing after set. Mercury can also be observed via spacecraft like MESSENGER which have been exploring this mysterious world for four years now.
Mercury is extremely hot due to its proximity to the Sun; its average temperature stands at 777 degrees Fahrenheit with highly variable weather patterns. Furthermore, due to the greenhouse effect and solar radiation effects on its climate, its climate is acidic as well.
Mercury, like Venus, is a terrestrial planet and the hottest one in our solar system. This extreme heat is due to a thick and toxic atmosphere which traps in heat from the Sun; as such it often obscures sunlight completely and its surface features volcanoes. Though similar to Venus in many respects, Mercury differs significantly in many regards – for instance it takes longer to orbit around and doesn’t have moons while mercury’s gravity pull is lower due to a less massive core and less gravity overall than Venus’.
It’s the hottest planet
Mercury, our closest planet to the Sun, does not possess an atmosphere, making it the hottest planet in our Solar System. Instead, atoms blasted off its surface by solar radiation, solar wind and meteoroids quickly escape into space leaving behind an outer shell called an “exosphere.” Though Mercury does possess its own magnetic field which is about one percent as strong as Earth’s, resulting in less magnetic force churning up molten metal at its core to drive temperatures up and thus help lower temperatures on Mercury.
Mercury may be the hottest planet, but that doesn’t mean it absorbed more solar energy than any other. Temperature depends not only on distance from the Sun but also albedo and atmosphere – further away planets receive less of its energy, while thinner atmospheres reflect it away more effectively from their surfaces, leading to lower average temperatures overall.
Venus, on the other hand, is exceptionally hot due to its thick atmosphere which acts like a greenhouse. Composed largely of carbon dioxide gas molecules that absorb sunlight without letting any escape, surface temperatures on Venus can reach 880 Fahrenheit (471 Celsius), hot enough to melt lead. Unfortunately, spacecraft sent there have rarely survived long after landing due to the highly toxic environment filled with sulfuric acid clouds and toxic sulfuric clouds present within its atmosphere.
At Venus’ proximity to the Sun, there is no evidence of water ice at its poles; yet Mercury’s MESSENGER mission has revealed some surprising surprises such as finding water ice deposits near its poles in deep craters near them – especially noteworthy given astronomers thought its climate would render any such deposit impossible! As a result, the MESSENGER team needed to adapt its orbiter trajectory so as to reach these deposits.
It’s the second largest planet
Mercury is the second-largest planet in our solar system, but due to its proximity to the sun it is the hottest. Similar to Earth, it features a dense metallic core and rocky mantle made up of compressed silicate minerals that form its mantle layer; its atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide while its surface temperatures could even melt lead!
Mercury features an ultrathin exosphere comprised of oxygen, sodium, hydrogen and helium that is subject to solar winds, with no natural satellites of its own but possibly having ice at its poles. Mercury also has a magnetic field which is only one percent as strong as Earth’s.
Scientists theorize that Earth’s atmosphere first came about after it was struck by a large asteroid early in its history, causing its surface to melt and creating an expanse of gaseous layers which gradually condense into solid matter as they cool and condense over time.
Venus stands out as a planet in our solar system due to its scorching surface temperature and thick atmosphere, both of which present formidable challenges to life on Earth. Scientists are working hard to comprehend why it became such a hostile place – understanding this information may provide them with vital clues as to the conditions necessary for human habitation on this world.
Venus remains beautiful despite its harsh environment, inspiring artists and writers since antiquity – such as Homer in “The Iliad” and the “Odyssey”, as well as Edgar Rice Burroughs with his books about “Pirates of Venus”. Venus is visible even during daylight hours but its light is fainter than that of its moon counterpart.
Galileo used his crude telescope in the 16th century to demonstrate that Venus had phases, thus validating Copernicus’ heliocentric model and disproving Ptolemy’s geocentric one. Unfortunately, little further knowledge about Venus was gained until well into the 20th century.
Mercury orbits in a tidally locked fashion, meaning its nightside is permanently facing away from the Sun while its dayside faces inwards causing its gravitational pull to prevent moon formation and prevent Mercury from being an ideal target for missions or further research – the next spacecraft scheduled to visit Mercury is BepiColombo which should arrive by 2025.
It’s the closest planet to the Moon
Since ancient times, humans have been mesmerized by our solar system’s Moon and planets. Astronomers have spent millennia studying these celestial bodies that appear to move across the stars; eventually understanding these as planets such as Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars Saturn or even Pluto. With the introduction of telescopes during space age humans were finally able to explore more closely these distant worlds and learn more about them.
Venus is often described as Earth’s twin, as they share many similar physical traits in terms of size, density and relative positions within the solar system. Both likely formed from similar types of rocky planet building blocks in the solar nebula and share chemical composition. Unfortunately for Venus however, as it’s the hottest planet with toxic atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid clouds; its surface features are peppered by volcanoes; plus its orbit is so close to that of Earth that its surface receives plenty of direct sunlight!
Due to its proximity to the Sun, Venus is an extremely hot planet that would be difficult for any human life to inhabit – yet scientists continue to study its harsh conditions as an insight into why Earth’s environments change over time.
Venus stands apart from most planets by being devoid of known moons due to its close proximity to the Sun; any moon that formed would likely disintegrate quickly due to extreme temperatures there. Scientists still don’t fully understand why certain planets have moons while others do not, though location in our solar system may play a factor.
Tonight if you can find a dark sky, you might just spot Mercury next to the Moon! It will appear as a thin crescent shape near sunset in the western twilight; binoculars may help distinguish it from its companion; this event offers an amazing chance to witness Jupiter, Mars and Saturn too.