The Best of All Worlds #7: Mercury
Sorry Mercury. We still bros?
Along with Venus, the planet Mercury is one of two inferior planets—that is, planets closer to the Sun than our own Earth. They are inferior in many other ways as well. We’ve already established that Venus is the worst planet; Mercury escapes that sort of infamy only because our expectations are lower.
Unlike the “sister Earth,” Venus, nobody expected Mercury to amount to much. From ancient times, it was obvious that Mercury was hanging around right next to the Sun. Once Copernicus figured out that the Sun was the centre of our (aptly named) Solar System, astronomers realized that Mercury was way too close to the Sun for anything good to be happening there. In fact, Mercury orbits the Sun in 88 days in an eccentric orbit at an average distance one-third that of the Earth’s orbit. As you sciencey types have already figured out, this means that Mercury receives sunlight at nine-ish times the intensity of the Earth. Now I know what you’re thinking: on Mercury it would be so easy to roast ants with a magnifying glass! Sorry to crush your twisted hopes, you horrible creep, but the ants would already be dead, as the surface temperature Sun-side soars to above 400° C. Also there is hardly any atmosphere on Mercury, so the poor ants would suffocate before you could even begin to torture them—unless you fashioned for them, out of bubble wrap, hundreds of ant-sized astronaut suits.
Now, if you and your ants decided to take shelter on the dark side of Mercury, you would be cooled by a refreshing surface temperature of less than –150° C. And there’s probably even water ice hiding in a few polar craters! Yes, Mercury is a world of extremes. It’s also extremely small for a planet. It’s smaller than the two largest moons in the Solar System, Ganymede and Titan. But at the same time, it’s the second densest of all the planets and moons in the Solar System, after the Earth. Crazy!
In appearance, Mercury looks like our Moon: pocked and pitted with craters. Not much to write home about. In fact, there really isn’t a lot of exciting stuff going on around Mercury. It’s basically a big round inert rock zipping about the Sun. Boooooring. But at least Mercury has lived up to our low expectations, unlike crappy Venus.
Our rankings so far:
Vote below for the best and worst planet in our Solar System! Listen to your heart and don’t let anyone tell you what to think! (P. S. Venus is the worst and if you think otherwise you’re wrong)