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MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of a flight low over the surface of the planet Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. Mercury has a highly eccentric orbit around the Sun, taking it as far away as nearly 69 million kilometres, but being as close as 46 million kilometres at its closest approach (perihelion). Its orbit is tidally locked to the Sun in a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, meaning it rotates three times for every two orbits. An orbit takes some 88 days. Mercury is heavily cratered, indicating it has been geologically inactive for billions of years.
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