MESSENGER Animations and Movies
Mercury travels around the Sun faster than any other planet, taking only 88 Earth days to orbit the Sun. Unlike the Earth, whose rotation on its axis takes 24 hours, Mercury takes about 59 Earth days to make complete rotation. Mercury's rotational period is exactly 2/3 of the time it takes for Mercury to complete one orbit around the Sun. In this animation you can explore this 3:2 spin-orbit resonance.
Mercury is the second smallest planet; only Pluto is smaller. In fact, Mercury is not much larger than our Moon. In this animation you can find out how Mercury "sizes up" to Earth or any other planet.
Since Mercury rotates exactly three times for every two orbits, a day on Mercury would be quite different from a typical Earth day. In fact, because of this 3:2 resonance, you would have daylight for 176 consecutive Earth days followed by 176 Earth days of darkness. Even more interesting is the path of the Sun as seen from the surface of Mercury around high noon. In this animation you can experience this typical Mercurian day.
Because Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, the Sun would appear much larger than it does on Earth. Sunrise to sunset on the planet Mercury takes 176 Earth days where the sun would appear to grow and shrink in size. In this animation you can experience a different view of the Sun.
Want to challenge yourself with some Mercurian Trivia? If so, check out the Fast Fact Challenge which contains questions about this mysterious planet.
If the Beginners Fast Fact Challenge wasn't so challenging, test your knowledge here with more Mercurian trivia.
From take-off to its final flyby, watch the MESSENGER spacecraft's journey to the planet Mercury. This site contains over 10 different movies.
The objects in our solar system have an enormous range of sizes and masses. This animation is intended to help you compare the masses of individual bodies ú the planets, our Moon, and the Sun.