Shop Windows to the Universe

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
Mercury's magnetic field is tilted by about 10. Its magnetic poles and geographic poles are not, therefore, in the same place.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image

The Magnetic Poles of Mercury

Mercury has a weak magnetic field. Like Earth's magnetic field, Mercury's dipole field is tilted with respect to the planet's spin axis. This means that Mercury's magnetic poles and its geographic poles are not in the same place.

Mercury has a global magnetic field that is about 1% as strong as Earth's field. Mercury's magnetic field is apparently generated by swirling motions in the planet's molten iron core, in a manner similar to Earth. Mercury has a very large iron core; it fills about 42% of the planet's volume as compared to 17% for Earth.

Mercury's dipole magnetic field axis is tilted about 10 away from its spin axis. That tilt is very similar to Earth's (~11) and Jupiter's (9.6), much less than the tilt at Uranus (59) and Neptune (47), and larger than Saturn's (< 1). Because Mercury's magnetic field is tilted, its magnetic poles are not located in quite the same places as are its geographic poles.

Last modified May 29, 2009 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Magnetosphere of Mercury

Mercury is the only terrestrial planet other than the Earth that has a significant magnetic field (220 nT). This field, along with the planet's high density and small size relative to the Earth, indicates...more

Mercury's Poles

If Uranus is the "tilted planet", Mercury might be called the "upright planet". The spin axis of Uranus, which defines the locations of the planet's North and South Poles, is tilted by 98. The spin axis...more

The Magnetic Field

The force of magnetism causes material to point along the direction the magnetic force points. This property implies that the force of magnetism has a direction. As shown in the diagram to the left, the...more

The Magnetic Poles of Uranus

The planet Uranus has an odd magnetic field. The planet's magnetic poles are nowhere near the geographic poles (as defined by the spin axis) of Uranus. A portion of the magnetic field of Uranus is a dipole...more

The Magnetic Poles of Mercury

Mercury has a weak magnetic field. Like Earth's magnetic field, Mercury's dipole field is tilted with respect to the planet's spin axis. This means that Mercury's magnetic poles and its geographic poles...more

Atmosphere of Mercury

Mercury has very little atmosphere. The planet's small size means that its gravity is too weak to hold down a normal atmosphere. There is a very thin atmosphere around the planet. Mercury's thin atmosphere...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA