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Mercury Planet Facts | How Far is Mercury From the Sun?

Small Yet Mighty Mercury Still Holds Many Mysteries

Two different spacecraft have visited the planet, but there’s still so much we don’t know about it.

By Jennifer Leman

Nov 9, 2019

NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY/CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON

Rockets roared to life on August 3, 2004, as an intrepid spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral and set out to uncover mysteries about the Solar System’s smallest planet: Mercury. The Messenger craft—short for Mercury

Surface, Space Environment, Geo-chemistry and Ranging—rocketed toward the dense, little planet with big plans.

Mariner 10—the first spacecraft to visit multiple planets and use gravity assist to fling itself from one to another—swept past Mercury three times in the 1970s. It returned striking photos of the planet’s surface and revealed what we know about temperature changes, giving scientists and astronomers a basic understanding of processes.

Only two missions have visited the mysterious little planet tucked against the sun. Mariner’s images of Mercury opened up a whole new world for exploration. Messenger would give scientists much, much more data along with surprises astronomers could never have imagined.

Now, a new mission, BepiColombo is racing toward Mercury and will expand our understanding of one of the solar system’s most intriguing planets.

A Few Quick Basics

NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY/CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON

Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system—slightly larger than the moon—with a radius of only 1,516 miles. If the Earth were the size of a nickel, according to NASA, Mercury would be the size of a blueberry.

It only takes sunlight 3.2 minutes to reach the surface of the Swift Planet, which sits tucked close to our sun—just 36 million miles away from the star. Sunlight reaches Earth in roughly eight minutes, by comparison. During the day, Mercury’s surface temperatures reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit and dip to -290 degrees Fahrenheit at night because the planet has no atmosphere to retain heat. So, don’t think about colonization.

Mercury has what’s called an exosphere made from solar-wind propelled oxygen, sodium, hydrogen, helium, and potassium atoms that have bounced off the planet’s surface. The moon-less Mercury’s magnetic field has a strength just one percent that of Earth’s and is wildly askew, much stronger along the planet’s northern Hemisphere, according to the New York Times.

Every morning, at dawn, the planet is subjected to a spray of micrometeoroids, according to NASA.

Mercury’s core is solid and makes up about 85 percent of the planet’s radius. It’s liquid outer core, is also mainly made of iron and is surrounded by a rocky mantle. Like Earth, the planet has a thin hard crust.

Godspeed Messenger

4.5 billion years ago, a swirl of gas, rock, and dust came together to form the smallest planet in our solar system. Because it lacks an atmosphere, the planet is covered in pockmarks from the many billions of years of asteroid and meteorite impacts.

Upon its closest approach, sweeping within 142 miles of the planet at a clip of 12,000 miles per hour, Messenger revealed insight into Mercury’s surface processes.

Large flat plains, interpreted as (relatively) fresh lava flows—not yet scarred by impact craters—showed that the planet may be more dynamic than previously thought. It’s a volcanic planet, as astronomers long suspected. Messenger imaged one peak larger than the state of Delaware.

The spacecraft also proved something incredible: the presence of water ice within the planet’s shadowed craters. At the time of its discovery, the The New York Times reported that there was enough ice in some of the craters to cover Washington D.C. in a two and a half mile-deep block of ice.

The mystery deepened when Messenger’s readings revealed that a dark, tar-like organic substance surrounded many of the ice deposits. These compounds are similar to what’s found on some asteroids and meteorites.

The spacecraft also discovered volatiles like chlorine, sulfur, sodium and potassium on the planet, according to The Times, signifying that Mercury has a complex origin story. It has shrunk, too, since its inception—by as much as 14 miles, NASA says.

After an 11 year mission, on April 30, 2015, Messenger dove into the planet, smashing a 50-foot-wide crater in the planet near Janácek crater in Suisei Planitia.

Some Celestial Oddities

NASA’S GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER/SDO/GENNA DUBERSTEIN

Just half a billion years after it formed, Mercury is thought to have been hit by a giant asteroid, which smashed a Texas-sized crater into the surface and knocked the planet into a strange, oblong orbit.

Mercury’s strange, egg-shaped orbit takes it around the sun every 88 days. Curiously, the planet rotates three times every two orbits, roughly every 58 Earth days. It’s a seasonless planet, too. Spring, summer, fall and winter are exactly the same because the axis along which Mercury rotates is almost perfectly upright.

Even weirder, some parts of the planet see two sunrises. The sun peeks over the horizon, briefly dips below, and then rises again for the rest of the day. The same process, but in reverse, happens along some parts of the planet during its sunset. One solar day—a full day-night cycle—takes 176 Earth days.

Roughly thirteen times each century, Mercury passes across the sun in a five-and-a-half-hour transit that is visible from Earth. Professional and amateur astronomers can track the planet with binoculars or a telescope equipped with a solar filter as it inches in front of the star.

⚠️ Never view the sun without a proper solar filter.

The last transit occurred on May 9, 2016, and the next will occur on Nov. 11, 2019. After that, the next transit won’t occur for 13 years. The entire transit will take five and a half hours, beginning at 7:35 a.m. EST and wrapping up at 1:04 p.m. EST, according to NASA.

Humans Make a Return Visit

In the next 6 years, we’ll learn even more about Mercury. BepiColombo, an ESA-JAXA mission, is currently zipping toward the planet. It launched in October 2018, and is scheduled to reach the planet in 2025, at which point it will return even more information about our Solar System’s smallest planet.

The mission is composed of two spacecraft: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter, which will carry a whopping 11 instruments, including cameras, spectrometers (IR, UV, X-ray, γ-ray, neutron), radiometer, laser altimeter, among others to probe the planet, and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, which will carry an imager and only five scientific instruments, including a magnetometer, ion spectrometer, electron energy analyzer, cold and energetic plasma detectors and a plasma wave analyzer.

As BebiColombo sails closer to the Swift Planet, it will take measurements of the planet’s exosphere and magnetosphere, collect data to reveal more about Mercury’s origin, inspect its planetary layers and conduct a critical test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

But eventually (in roughly 3.5 billion years), Mercury will expire. Scientists believe the sun will become brighter, expand, and swallow Mercury, Venus, and Earth before eventually turning into a white dwarf star.

But until then, there is much to learn about the smallest planet in our solar system. Does it have active tectonics? Do its craters contain water or sulfur ice? Does the planet have aurorae like here on Earth?

Luckily, BepiColombo is on the hunt for answers…

Source: Mercury Planet Facts | How Far is Mercury From the Sun?






 

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SPACE

Massive black hole that ‘should not even exist’ has been discovered

STRATEGIC ClipBoard:  Scary. How could we miss it? Or think one couldn’t exist – just because we live here? Hope it doesn’t eat up our sun or misalign the planets causing collusions.

Yeah, all that collusion talk on the media all over the world upset the Galaxy. You want collusion? I’ll show you collusion.

No. The Galaxy isn’t a woman. Neither are ships or cars or countries. Strange how people call their land MOTHER, yet women across lines and locations still don’t have the rights of status that men enjoy.

I wonder if it’s the same on other planets? Why do we always think that any extraterrestrial life we happen upon is going to be superior to us. What if they’re inferior to us, yet stronger and more brutal? Do you really want to find them? Do you really want them as your neighbor? What if they’re searching for human food and they already found us? What if they want our planet for themselves?

You can be smart and still inferior to us.

Ask the Jews if they’re harboring any alien-slanted humans among them?

I’ve seen a few. Many are on public assistance, living in public housing, but they’re geniuses.

How does that happen?

Lots of questions without answers.

Humans are hung up on ‘superior’ aren’t they? It’s not just the Japanese, Chinese, Germans, Russians, Africans, Indians, Indigenous people, it’s everyone, every group. Even when an individual or group submits to another, they still think they’re superior. It’s not a wish, it’s a knowing that they’re superior.

Ah, I almost forgot the British. They wanted me to forget them though. It’s rude if you claim superiority, but they all still think they are.

Now, what are we going to do about that black hole? Most people would say nothing. We’ll observe it.

The correct answer is, “We’re going to look for another one that may be closer to Earth.

No. It’s not MOTHEREarth. You can call it mother when mothers get the same status rights as fathers.

It’s a trick to pacify women so they won’t ask for much. Look, we name the most important things in our lives after women. That’s quite a status.

Yeah, but status doesn’t pay the bills. I got a promotion without a pay raise, doing the same job I do now.

IN NAME ONLY are you superior.

This inferior woman here wants back pay for Two Decades.

Did you know thaT MOST WOMEN AROUND THE GLOBE ARE STILL SLAVES?

‘I don’t believe in God, a religious-based God, but I believe in a superior being’. That’s been floating around for a long time. In fact, my journey into the unknown began with that internal declaration. It evolved from there and is still evolving.

I love evolution. I still can’t wrap my head around ‘something from nothing’. Or, ‘there is no beginning and there is no end’.

If there’s no ending and no beginning, then everything is always transitional.

I wonder with transitional people, how far that will go? Once it starts, it accelerates unless a more forceful opposing state blocks the process.

The process doesn’t just effect gender; it effects the entire organism.

I wonder what the acceleration will look like?

Interesting.


ABC News

ELLA TORRES,

ABC 11.30.2019

Massive black hole that ‘should not even exist’ has been discovered (ABC News)

Massive black hole that ‘should not even exist’ has been discovered originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

A black hole with a mass 70 times greater than the Sun was discovered, leaving scientists stunned.

“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” Professor Jifeng Liu, who led the team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences that made the discovery, said in a statement.

Scientists previously believed that the mass of an individual stellar black hole could not be more than 20 times that of the Sun. These stellar black holes are different than so-called supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of galaxies and can be billions of times the mass of our Sun…

FINISH UP: Massive black hole that ‘should not even exist’ has been discovered






 

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SPACE

Meet the Robot Pioneers That Will Allow Us to Colonize Mars | Digital Trends

Meet the robotic pioneers that will help humanity colonize Mars

By Georgina Torbet November 21, 2019 3:00AM PST

Meet the robotic pioneers that will help humanity colonize Mars

From NASA’s upcoming Moon to Mars mission to Elon Musk’s ambitious plans to use a SpaceX Starship to eventually colonize Mars, the race to populate the Red Planet is already on. But before humans can visit Mars and set up any kind of long-term base there, we need to send out scouts to see the lay of the land and prepare it for manned missions.

The mechanical pioneers we’ll be sending to Mars in the coming years will follow in the tire tracks of explorers like the Curiosity rover and the Insight lander, but the next generation of Martian robotics will use sophisticated AI, novel propulsion methods, and flexible smallsats to meet the challenges of colonizing a new world.

Designing for the Mars environment

There are distinct difficulties in building machines which can withstand the Martian environment. First, there’s the cold, with temperatures averaging around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit and going down to minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit at the poles. Then there’s the thin atmosphere, which is just one percent the density of Earth’s atmosphere. And then there’s the troublesome dust that gets kicked up in any operations on the planet’s surface, not to mention the intense radiation from the Sun’s rays.

These environmental conditions create problems for robotics, from temperature variations which cause mechanisms to expand and contract and so wear over time, to dust getting into gears which prevents the use of exposed lubrication.

NASA’s Curiosity rover, with its robotic arm built by Maxar to withstand the Martian environment.

NASA

“It’s a very unique and extreme environment, even for space robotics,” said Al Tadros, VP of Space Infrastructure and Civil Space at Maxar Technologies, which is the company that builds the robotic arms for NASA’s Mars rovers. Maxar’s robotic arms must be able not only to survive this harsh environment, but also perform the tasks like digging and drilling which enable scientific investigations….

READ MORE:

  Meet the Robot Pioneers That Will Allow Us to Colonize Mars | Digital Trends


 





 

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SPACE

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN Painted By God