Term Paper: The Airless World

Sample Term Paper

Words 2,133

This term paper discusses planets and stars. The Romans named Mercury after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods because it seemed to move more rapidly than any other planet.

The Romans named Mercury after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods because it seemed to move more rapidly than any other planet. It is the closest planet to the Sun, and second smallest planet in the solar system. Its diameter is 40% smaller than Earth and 40% larger than the Moon. It is even smaller than Jupiter’s moon Ganymede and Saturn’s moon Titan.

During the 1880’s, Giovanni Schiaparelli drew a sketch showing faint features on Mercury. He theorized that Mercury must be tidally locked to the Sun, just as the Moon is tidally locked to Earth. In 1962, radio astronomers looked at radio emissions from Mercury and determined that the dark side was too tepid to be tidally locked. It was expected to be much colder if it always faced away from the Sun. Although Mercury is not tidally locked to the Sun, its rotational period is tidally coupled to its orbital period. Mercury rotates one and a half times during each orbit. Because of this, a day on Mercury (sun rise to sun rise) is 176 Earth days long.

Mercury resembles moon in many ways. It is pocked with craters; hold huge multi-ring basins, and many lava flows. The craters range in size from 100 meters (the smallest resolvable feature on Mariner 10 images) to 1,300 kilometers. They are in a range of stages of preservation. Some are young with sharp rims and bright rays extending from them.

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