Day on Mercury

Day on Mercury

Launch Tool

A Day on Mercury allows you to experience a day as perceived on the surface of Mercury, meaning the time between sunrises, which is actually 176 Earth days. This long day is caused by the fact that Mercury rotates exactly three times for every two orbits. There is quite a bit going on in this animation. In the top part of the animation, you can see the sun traveling across the landscape as viewed from Mercury. You can watch the stats boxes in the lower left of the screen to follow the progress of the animation. Your location on Mercury is shown at the lower right in a static "front view" snapshot that changes over the course of the day. An animation of the planet's orbital position appears at the lower right. You can also track the change in temperature throughout the day by looking at the thermometer in the lower middle of the screen.

Going Further

For Educators

By studying other planets like Mercury, students can add to their knowledge base about the solar system, its formation, and evolution. This animation can be used in the classroom to enhance a lesson on comparative planetology, where students compare Earth to Mercury. The image in the top part of the screen would be useful in showing students what a rocky and desolate surface we believe Mercury to have. The statistics at the bottom of the screen can allow students to see the differences between Earth and Mercury in terms of how quickly Mercury orbits the sun while the surface temperature section lets students see the wide variation in temperature between a day and night on the planet.

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Tool Details

Grades Themes Type Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards