The Planet Mercury as a School Science Fair Project

The planet Mercury
The planet Mercury. SCIEPRO/Getty Images

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and this makes it unique in our solar system. There are many interesting facts about this planet, and it is the perfect topic for a school science fair project.

Middle and high school students can take a science fair project about Mercury in a number of directions. The display can be interactive and include a model of the planet, as well as amazing space photographs.

Why is Mercury Special?

A science fair is meant to be a student's exploration of a single science topic, and Mercury is often overlooked when it comes to the planets. In fact, it is a planet that we know very little about.

In 2008, NASA's Messenger spacecraft sent back some of the first images of the planet since the 1970s, and it just crashed on the planet in 2015. The new pictures and data scientists collected from this mission makes now a better time than ever to study Mercury at a science fair.

Mercury and the Sun

A day on Mercury lasts longer than the time it takes the planet to revolve once around the Sun.

If you were standing near Mercury's equator: the Sun would appear to rise, then briefly set again, before resuming its path across the sky. During this time, the size of the Sun in the sky would seem to grow and shrink as well.

The same pattern would repeat as the sun set - it would dip below the horizon, briefly rise again, then return below the horizon.

Mercury Science Fair Project Ideas

  1. What is Mercury's place in the solar system? Build a scale model of our solar system to show where Mercury is and how big it is in comparison to other planets.
  2. What are the features of Mercury? Could the planet sustain some kind of life? Why or why not?
  3. What is Mercury made of? Explain the core and the atmosphere of the planet and relate those elements to things we find on Earth.
  4. How does Mercury orbit the sun? Explain the forces at work when the planet orbits the sun. What keeps it in place? Is it moving further away?
  5. What would a day look like if you were standing on Mercury? Design an interactive display or video that shows people how the light would change.
  6. What did NASA's Messenger mission to Mercury find? In 2011, the Messenger spacecraft reached Mercury and gave us a new look at the planet. Explore the findings or the instruments used to send them back to Earth.
  7. Why does Mercury look like our moon? Examine the craters of Mercury, including the one named for John Lennon and the one made when Messenger crashed there in 2015.