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I have always been interested in learning more about the planets in the Solar System. During our classes, I decided to conduct in-depth research on Mercury that has also been described in our notes (page 11.1). I would like to learn more about a planet that is the closest to the sun, the history of its discovery as well as its peculiarities.
I typed “Mercury” into the search engine “Google.”
The first two links were to the Mercury Motor website, a company that produces and distributes boat motors, which meant that the name of the planet I searched for was also used in for other purposes. I decided to type “Mercury planet” into the search engine to see what results will appear. The first link was to Wikipedia, which gave a lot of information about the planet such as physical characteristics, orbit, rotation, and longitude, and observation history.
Wikipedia is a secondary source, so I wanted to find a source that is regarded more authoritative. The second source that came up was a link to the article from Nasa’s website called “What Is the Planet Mercury?” This article was smaller compared to Wikipedia; however, it gave enough information about how did the planet receive its name, how big it is, where is it located, what does it look like, as well as how did NASA study it. Because I managed to find excellent sources quickly, I felt that no additional searching was required. I could trust NASA’s website because it was created by a governmental agency, so all I needed to do is find as much information on Mercury as possible.
I discovered that the planet was called after the Roman god-messenger Mercury that was considered very fast. Because Mercury is the fastest planet, I think that such a name is appropriate. I also found out that the first spacecraft-robot launched to visit the planet was called Mariner 10. According to the NASA site (and the news releases), there was a 30-year gap during which no spacecraft visited the planet. However, in 2011 the spacecraft called MESSENGER started to orbit Mercury to take photos of the planet’s surface so that NASA could be able to study the parts of the planet that have never been seen and examined before (Wild par. 3). Thus, information that the spacecraft collects is valuable for scientists to give the researchers an understanding of what the inside of the planet is like. Such a valuable invention like MESSENGER is a special tool that will help NASA learn more about the nature of Mercury. One of the fun facts about Mercury is that a day on the planet is longer than its year because of the nature of its rotation. One rotation on its axis (a day) takes two rotations on its orbit (a year).
In class, we learned general information about the planets in the Solar System as well as the order in which they are situated from the Sun. The first planet from the Sun is Mercury, the surface of which is very similar to the Earth’s moon, according to NASA’s website. Also, because the planet is the closest to the Sun, it is hot (800 F on the sunny side). NASA is also very interested in studying Mercury with the help pf the MESSENGER: “MESSENGER has a unique quality that other crafts don’t. Its structure was built using a composite material, making the spacecraft relatively lightweight” (Talbert par. 5). The exploration of the planet closest to the Sun will help scientists explore our Universe and find new sources of life.
Talbert, Tricia. NASA – MESSENGER: The Extreme Machine. 2015. Web.
Wild, Flint. What is the Planet Mercury? 2011. Web.