The innermost planet is rarely seen because of the Sun's glare. With
less than half Earth's gravity, Mercury retains only a wisp of an atmosphere
(presumed to be helium). The lack of a significant atmosphere allows
temperatures to fluctuate from 750 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to
minus 320 Fahrenheit at night.
Like the other terrestrial planets -- Venus, Earth and Mars -- Mercury is
made mostly of rock and metal. This small world is scarred by craters and
looks somewhat like our Moon.
Mercury has been known since ancient times. Its elusiveness generated
the name Hermes, given by the Greeks, later translated to Mercurius by