Surface of Mercury, artwork

Surface of Mercury, artwork

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Credit: RICHARD BIZLEY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Surface of Mercury. Artwork of the Sun over rocky outcrops on the surface of the planet Mercury. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, orbiting at an average distance of 58 million kilometres, less than half the Earth-Sun distance. The solar wind blasts atoms from its rocky surface, forming a very thin atmosphere that is constantly lost to space. The surface temperature extremes are the greatest in the solar system, ranging from 400 to minus 170 degrees Celsius. Mercury takes 59 days to rotate on its axis, with the Sun rising every 176 Earth days, which is once every two Mercury years.

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