What Is Mercury Made Of?

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Mercury, the planet, has a solid core containing iron, a magnetic field and silicone. Find out why Mercury has no atmosphere with help from a science teacher in this free video on physical science.

Part of the Video Series: Physical & Life Science
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you a little of what mercury is made of. Now I don't mean mercury the metal because we know what that is made of, that's made of mercury. Mercury, the planet. Now Mercury is the planet nearest to the sun so here is Mercury and here is the sun and because it is near to the sun we expect it to be fairly warm and it certainly is at 427 Celsius but of course its temperature dips to a horrific -183 Celsius and that is when it is not exposed to the sun. It doesn't have an atmosphere so it is very difficult to have a temperature when you don't actually have a cushion to maintain that temperature. That is why there is this huge swing. Look at Earth with its atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere varies between -80 in the very coldest places to 60 compare that with Mercury. Venus is around 400 Celsius more or less everywhere. It has got a horrific atmosphere and runaway global warming. But let's get back to Mercury. What is it we know about Mercury. Well first of all it has a large solid core containing iron. The planet is smaller but even so the core is much larger and it has a magnetic field, about 1% of the Earth's magnetic field. But as I said before there is no atmosphere. Atmosphere is what keep and moderates the surface temperature of the planet. There is no such moderation. That is why it has extremes of heat and cold and its surface is like the moon. It is full of craters because there is no atmosphere to burn up meteorites coming in so the meteorites strike the surface and therefore you would expect to find trace elements from meteorites of various different minerals on the surface of the planet. The planet also has no moons. So you could conclude from this that Mercury is made of much the same things that the Earth is made of with its silicone. No carbon content very much because there is no life on the surface and no way of sustaining life, it is far too hot to sustain life, it's going to be completely inert and of course it is basically iron based just as the Earth is. So that is what Mercury is made of.


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