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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.

Mercury

Mercury, the planet nearest the Sun, is also the smallest planet in the Solar System. Only slightly larger than the Earth's moon, Mercury's surface is covered with craters. This tiny planet does not have any rings or moons.

Visit another planet: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
<a href="/mercury/mercury.html">Mercury</a>, the innermost planet of the solar system, is a little bigger than the Earth's Moon. The <a href="/mercury/Interior_Surface/Surface/surface_overview.html">surface</a> of the planet is covered with craters, like the Moon, but temperatures there can reach over 800&deg;F because Mercury is so close to the Sun and rotates so slowly.  This picture was taken by the <a href="/space_missions/robotic/messenger/messenger.html">MESSENGER spacecraft</a> in October 2008.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.</em></small></p>This historic image is the first ever taken from a spacecraft in orbit about <a href="/mercury/mercury.html">Mercury</a>, the innermost planet of the solar system.  Taken on 3/29/2011 by <a href="/space_missions/robotic/messenger/messenger.html">MESSENGER</a>, it shows numerous craters across the <a href="/mercury/Interior_Surface/Surface/surface_overview.html">surface</a> of the planet.  Temperatures there can reach over 800F because Mercury is so close to the Sun and rotates so slowly.  MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury earlier in March 2011.<p><small><em>NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington</em></small></p>

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF