Geocache coordinates: 47.6235, -122.5173
Distance from the Sun: 35,980,000 mi
Diameter: 3,032 mi
Modeled distance from the Sun: 208 feet
Modeled diameter: 0.21 inches
The smallest planet in our solar system is also the planet that orbits the closest to our Sun, the planet Mercury. Mercury is a light weight in our solar system, weighing only 5% of Earth and having only a third of the diameter of Earth (that means you can put three Mercurys side by sid across the middle of the Earth)!
In our model Mercury has been shrunk down to a mere quarter inch in diameter, well, technically, even a little less! Imagine the size of a typical LED, which is just about the size of Mercury in our model. Now imagine a whopping 5-foot side Sun hanging out a mere 208 feet away!
Mercury is one of the four terrestrial planets, like Earth, and thus made up of hard, rocky materials like metals and silicates. Despite being the closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is only the second hottest planet in the solar system! Venus, the second planet takes that title due to its runaway greenhouse effect. Mercury, however, is the most cratered planet in the system due to its inability to “self-heal” via natural geological processes like all the other planets.