Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 10484

When you think about the planet Mercury, a super-hot rock that is closest to the sun, do you think about ice? Uncover interesting facts about this tiny planet, then create a slideshow presentation!


Space Science and Astronomy

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What do you think you know about Mercury?

Check out the video below for a surprising fact!

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  • Would you have guessed that the closest planet to the sun would have ice?

The planet closest to the sun, Mercury, is only about the size of our moon.

Mercury got its name from the Romans, who named it after a Greek deity known as the quick messenger of the gods.

Given that Mercury travels around the sun in 88 days, compared to the earth’s 365, it makes sense that they would name this planet after a speedy god!

One year on Mercury is only three months on Earth. Time flies!

mercury roman greek olympian god

  • Are you ready to learn more facts about Mercury?

Even though Mercury’s revolution (the time it takes to travel around the sun) is much shorter than the earth’s, it takes a lot longer to rotate (spin). One day on Mercury is equal to about 59 days on Earth.

Mercury and Earth are very different. Mercury is very heavy. It is made mostly of iron covered in a thin shell of rock. There is no way that humans could live on Mercury because this planet lacks the temperature and atmosphere that humans need for survival.

Mercury has very extreme temperatures. They are so extreme that the temperature can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day! The dark side temperature can be as low as -300 degrees Fahrenheit as the planet rotates into night!

Mercury also has almost no air, which humans depend on for survival! Because it is so close to the sun, there is no way that it can hold an atmosphere like Earth.

Since Mercury has no atmosphere, the planet has been exposed to constant bombardment from space debris. As a result, Mercury's surface looks a lot like our moon.


Unlike Earth, where most meteors burn up when they travel through the atmosphere, on Mercury, objects from space barely slow down at all and bump right into the surface of this planet.

Also, without an atmosphere, there can be no weather, and the sun's rays are much more intense than on Earth, where there is an atmosphere to protect it.

Even in these harsh conditions, ice has been discovered on Mercury in areas permanently shaded from the sun.

  • If water exists on Mercury, could there be life?

Scientists agree life is not possible without an atmosphere.

Watch the video below to continue learning about Mercury.

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  • Would you like to see more pictures of Mercury?

Check out these Mercury: Images from NASA.

  • What about Mercury do you find the most interesting?

Continue to the Got It? section to further compare Mercury and Earth.

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