This very morning, MESSENGER, which is the first space craft we Earthlings have ever put into orbit around Mercury, sent back 364 images of the planet.
Think about it, people. There is a man-made vehicle out there that managed to fly through space and arrive at a tiny planet, settle into an orbit around said planet, and beam back photos, all without being sucked into the sun or just floating off into the universe. Next time your GPS sends you in the wrong direction or your iPhone doesn’t receive your buddy’s text message from the other side of the office and you think about excusing the manufacturer (we’re only human after all, right?), keep that in mind.
|Actual photo of Mercury, sent by MESSENGER just this morning!|
So anyway, this whole thing started me wondering exactly how hot Mercury is. It’s pretty much right next to the sun, right? And the sun is a bit toasty.
I found a great site called www.hypertextbook.com that listed some details on this subject, including temperature readings in Fahrenheit. This was crucial for me because as a lazy, ignorant American I refuse to really learn Celsius. Or Kelvin. Hence, my love of this site. Anyway, it turns out that because Mercury has no atmosphere, the temps vary wildly between day and night, more so even than they do here in metro Atlanta (if you can believe it). According to Thomas Watters: “Just before sunrise on a typical day on Mercury the temperature is -300 °F (-180 °C). By midmorning the temperature rises to 80 °F (27 °C). At noontime, 22 Earth days since the sun rise, it has climbed to 765 °F (407 °C).”
What really caught my attention was that midmorning balmy temperature of 80 degrees (F). I mean, that’s a fabulous temperature, am I right? Let's think this through as to how this is relevant to people. On Mercury a day lasts 58.6 Earth days, and Mercury is 9525 miles around at its equator. Therefore, if you are on Mercury and you just move in the opposite direction of Mercury’s spin at a mere 6.7 miles per hour, you can remain in that comfy, 80 degree zone, feeling pleasantly warm and working on your tan while getting in some good aerobic activity, all the time! Of course, if you stop moving… well, that song “Here Comes The Sun” takes on a whole new ominous tone.
Talk about incentive to get up and move! Sitting around on the couch watching DWTS reruns or playing Wii would not seem as appealing as here on Earth. You could totally choose your method of movement: running, biking, roller-blading, skateboarding (not sure the surface is conducive for small-wheeled vehicles, though). Mercury people would be, like, the fittest people in the solar system! Couldn’t you picture Richard Simmons doing a whole Mercury Movement series?
This is how my mind works on rainy Wednesdays when I’m supposed to be doing schoolwork.