Mercury is a deadly world, facing attacks from the sun, comets, and other planets, and even though it’s the smallest planet in the solar system, it has a dangerous secret a dangerous secret that might one day threaten life on Earth.
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Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System. Its orbital period around the Sun of 88 days is the shortest of all the planets in the Solar System. It is named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger to the gods.
Like Venus, Mercury orbits the Sun within Earth’s orbit as an inferior planet, and never exceeds 28° away from the Sun. When viewed from Earth, this proximity to the Sun means the planet can only be seen near the western or eastern horizon during the early evening or early morning. At this time it may appear as a bright star-like object, but is often far more difficult to observe than Venus. The planet telescopically displays the complete range of phases, similar to Venus and the Moon, as it moves in its inner orbit relative to Earth, which reoccurs over the so-called synodic period approximately every 116 days.
Mercury is gravitationally locked with the Sun in a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, and rotates in a way that is unique in the Solar System. As seen relative to the fixed stars, it rotates on its axis exactly three times for every two revolutions it makes around the Sun. As seen from the Sun, in a frame of reference that rotates with the orbital motion, it appears to rotate only once every two Mercurian years. An observer on Mercury would therefore see only one day every two years.