CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Surface of Mercury. Computer artwork of a rocky landscape on the surface of the planet Mercury, dominated by the Sun. At its closest, Mercury is only 46 million kilometres from the Sun, less than a third of the Earth-Sun distance. The surface temperature extremes are the greatest in the solar system, ranging (day-night) from 400 to -170 degrees Celsius. A thin atmosphere is formed by the solar wind blasting material from its rocky surface. Due to the relative lengths of the day and year on Mercury, and the eccentricity of the orbit of Mercury, the Sun changes in apparent size and speeds up and slows down as it moves across the sky. The pattern on the surface of the Sun is granulation, caused by convection cells.
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