Did you know Mercury is our closest neighbour? Here's how

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Image credit: NASA
Image credit: NASA

New Delhi : If you are asked which planet is closest to Earth, then what would be your answer? Your common sense may say that it's Venus or Mars. And, you may be right theoretically. But, actually, you're answer is not entirely true. The answer is Mercury. Strange, isn't it!

Scientists with the use of Point-circle method (PCM) technique calculated the distance between every point on a planet’s orbit and every point on the second planet’s orbit. Using this, three researchers found that Venus is on average is 1.14 astronomical units away from Earth and Mercury is 1.04 AU away.

Astronauts figured that for any two bodies in the same plane and moving in concentric orbits, the average distance between the two bodies is directly proportional to the radius of the inner orbit.

To validate this corollary, they plotted the planets in their actual elliptical orbits in 3D and ran a simulation for 10,000 years. The simulation recorded the distances between each pair of planets every 24 simulation hours.

The average measured distances deviated from the results from PCM by less than 1%. On average, Mercury is Earth’s closest neighbour.

However, not all the scientists confirmed the authenticity of the information. One astrophysicist told “Any physical quantity is interesting to the degree to which it determines the solution of interesting questions. For planetary dynamics, some of the interesting questions are about the evolution of the orbits of the planets, satellites, asteroids, comets and other minor bodies. The physical quantities of interest are the Keplerian orbital elements, whose long-time evolution is in general difficult to calculate.”

A few researchers say that the “average distance” calculated might not be worthwhile. But knowing that Mercury is certain way closer to Earth, we need to wait for valid inputs from the scientists. Let's wait for the time!