DetailsPermalink to Details
- Added to the Catalog
- Available for
- Space: Planets and Exoplanets
DescriptionPermalink to Description
Temperatures vary drastically on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. On the side that faces the sun, temperatures can reach up to 801°F, while on the other side, temperatures can drop down to -279°F, allowing for Mercury to have the most extreme temperature variations in the solar system. One reason for these temperature variations is the lack of atmosphere over Mercury to trap heat. The smallest planet in the solar system, Mercury is rocky and cratered with almost no atmosphere to serve as protection. Caloris Basin, with a diameter of over 800 miles, is Mercury’s most notable feature and is thought to have been caused by an impact early in the history of the planet.
Mercury has not only the longest day, approximately 1407.5 hours (58.65 Earth days), but also the fastest orbit velocity at an amazing 107,088 miles per hour. Another solar system record held by Mercury is the shortest year at only 87.97 Earth days. The combination of the longest day with the shortest year means that for every two orbits that Mercury completes around the sun, it only rotates on its axis three times. The orbit of Mercury is not circular, but highly elliptical with the distance from the sun varying from 28.58 million miles at perihelion (position closest to sun) to 43.38 million miles at aphelion (position farthest from sun). This dataset was created using data from the MESSENGER mission. It is a global mosaic that covers 99.9% of Mercury's surface, and image details are available here.
Next Generation Science StandardsPermalink to Next Generation Science Standards
Cross-cutting ConceptsPermalink to Cross-cutting Concepts
C1 Patterns. Children recognize that patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence
C2 Cause and Effect. Students learn that events have causes that generate observable patterns. They design simple tests to gather evidence to support or refute their own ideas about causes.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students routinely identify and test causal relationships and use these relationships to explain change. They understand events that occur together with regularity might or might not signify a cause and effect relationship
C4 Systems and System Models. Students understand that a system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot. They can also describe a system in terms of its components and their interactions.
C7 Stability and Change. Students measure change in terms of differences over time, and observe that change may occur at different rates. Students learn some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time they will eventually change.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students classify relationships as causal or correlational, and recognize that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. They use cause and effect relationships to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. They also understand that phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can understand that systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. They can use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. They can also learn that models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes. They also learn within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.
C7 Stability and Change. Students explain stability and change in natural or designed systems by examining changes over time, and considering forces at different scales, including the atomic scale. Students learn changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part, systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms, and stability might be disturbed by either sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time
C2 Cause and Effect. Students understand that empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and to make claims about specific causes and effects. They suggest cause and effect relationships to explain and predict behaviors in complex natural and designed systems. They also propose causal relationships by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. They recognize changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn that the total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. They can describe changes of energy and matter in a system in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. They also learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.
C7 Stability and Change. Students understand much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable. They quantify and model changes in systems over very short or very long periods of time. They see some changes are irreversible, and negative feedback can stabilize a system, while positive feedback can destabilize it. They recognize systems can be designed for greater or lesser stability
Disciplinary Core IdeasPermalink to Disciplinary Core Ideas
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. Patterns of movement of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth can be observed, described, and predicted
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. Patterns of movement of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth can be observed, described, and predicted
ESS1.C The History of Planet Earth. Some events on Earth occur very quickly; others can occur very slowly.
ESS2.B Plate Tectonics & Large Scale Interactions. Maps show where things are located. One can map the shapes and kinds of land and water in any area.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. In a region, some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others. Forecasts allow communities to prepare for severe weather.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. Stars range greatly in size and distance from Earth and this can explain their relative brightness.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. The Earth’s orbit and rotation, and the orbit of the moon around the Earth cause observable patterns.
ESS1.C The History of Planet Earth. Certain features on Earth can be used to order events that have occurred in a landscape.
ESS2.B Plate Tectonics & Large Scale Interactions. Earth’s physical features occur in patterns, as do earthquakes and volcanoes. Maps can be used to locate features and determine patterns in those events.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The effect of unbalanced forces on an object results in a change of motion. Patterns of motion can be used to predict future motion. Some forces act through contact, some forces act even when the objects are not in contact. The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth’s surface pulls that object toward the planet’s center
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Moving objects contain energy. The faster the object moves, the more energy it has. Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects, or through sound, light, or electrical currents. Energy can be converted from one form to another form.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. The universe began with a period of extreme and rapid expansion known as the Big Bang. Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. The solar system contains many varied objects held together by gravity. Solar system models explain and predict eclipses, tides, lunar phases, and seasons.
ESS1.C The History of Planet Earth. Rock strata and the fossil record can be used as evidence to organize the relative occurrence of major historical events in Earth’s history.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and severe weather.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The role of the mass of an object must be qualitatively accounted for in any change of motion due to the application of a force.
PS2.B Types of Interactions. Forces that act at a distance involve fields that can be mapped by their relative strength and effect on an object.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Kinetic energy can be distinguished from the various forms of potential energy. Energy changes to and from each type can be tracked through physical or chemical interactions. The relationship between the temperature and the total energy of a system depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter.
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other, and these forces can transfer energy between them.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. The sun is just one of more than 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. The study of stars’ light spectra and brightness is used to identify compositional elements of stars, their movements, and their distances from Earth.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects. Observations from astronomy and space probes provide evidence for explanations of solar system formation. Changes in Earth’s tilt and orbit cause climate changes such as Ice Ages
ESS1.C The History of Planet Earth. The rock record resulting from tectonic and other geoscience processes as well as objects from the solar system can provide evidence of Earth’s early history and the relative ages of major geologic formations.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales. Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma) and the conservation of momentum can be used to predict changes in the motion of macroscopic objects.
PS2.B Types of Interactions. Forces at a distance are explained by fields that can transfer energy and can be described in terms of the arrangement and properties of the interacting objects and the distance between them. These forces can be used to describe the relationship between electrical and magnetic fields.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. The total energy within a system is conserved. Energy transfer within and between systems can be described and predicted in terms of energy associated with the motion or configuration of particles (objects).
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. Fields contain energy that depends on the arrangement of the objects in the field.
Notable FeaturesPermalink to Notable Features
- Caloris Basin: 950 miles in diameter (one of largest features)
- Thought to be created by impact early in history of planet
Data SourcePermalink to Data Source