Click and drag to rotate the planet!
Source: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)
Harvey's space adventure begins with a visit to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to learn all about the planets in our solar system.
First up is Mercury! No one has ever actually gone to Mercury, but NASA has sent two missions to explore it, and another one is on its way there now.
Here are some cool facts about Mercury:
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun in our solar system. It's also the smallest planet in our solar system, just a little bit bigger than the earth's moon.
Mercury is fast! It's not just the smallest planet in our solar system, it's also the fastest. It travels 29 miles per second! That's about 200 times faster than a commercial airplane!
Since Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it has the shortest distance to travel around the sun. That means it also has the shortest year of all the planets: 88 days. So if you're 10 years old on earth, you would be 41 years old in Mercury years!
A day on Mercury isn't like a day on Earth. The sun doesn't rise and set there like it does here. On Mercury, there's only one sunrise every 180 Earth days!
Mercury's surface is rocky with lots of craters. It looks a lot like the earth's moon.
You wouldn't be able to breathe on Mercury. That's because its atmosphere is thin and made up of the wrong combination of gases for our lungs.
There is also no life on Mercury. That's because it gets too much radiation from the sun, and it also gets both extremely hot and extremely cold. It can be 800°F during the day and -290°F at night!
Mercury has no moon!