What’s the Closest Planet to Earth? Not Venus, Scientists Say

A vibrant view of Mercury produced from images taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Organization of Washington

What is the closest world to Earth? The response many people would offer is Venus. However … it may really be Mercury.

Although Venus is the world that comes closest to Earth as it sweeps by on its orbit, Mercury remains the closest to Earth the longest, according to a commentary released Tuesday (March 12) in the publication Physics Today

” By some phenomenon of recklessness, obscurity, or groupthink, science popularizers have actually distributed details based upon a problematic presumption about the typical range in between worlds,” Tom Stockman, a Ph.D. trainee at the University of Alabama; Gabriel Monroe, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research study and Advancement Center; and Samuel Cordner, a mechanical engineer at NASA composed in the commentary. [See Photos of Meteorites from Around the World]

When individuals compute the range in between 2 worlds, they generally deduct the 2 worlds’ typical ranges from the sun. However here’s the important things: That just determines the range in between 2 worlds when they’re closest to each other, they stated. A few of the time, Venus is all the method on the opposite side of the Sun since the 2 worlds move at various speeds.

In the commentary, the scientists designed a brand-new mathematical method, called the point-circle technique, to determine the ranges in between worlds. This technique averages the range in between a lot of points on each world’s orbit, therefore taking some time into factor to consider.

When determined that method, Mercury was closest to Earth the majority of the time. Not just that, however Mercury was likewise the closest world to Saturn, and Neptune, and all of the other worlds. The scientists inspected their findings by drawing up where the worlds remained in their orbits every 24 hours for 10,000 years.

Nevertheless, not everybody concurs with this brand-new meaning of “closest” world.

” Expect you reside in a home where individuals who live next door to you invest half the year someplace, perhaps you reside in Wisconsin and your closest next-door neighbors invest 7 months of the long winter seasons in Florida,” stated Steven Beckwith, the director of the Area Science Lab and teacher of astronomy at UC Berkeley, who was not part of the commentary. “Throughout the winter season, individuals in the next home over would be closer to you.”

However many people would still state that their closest next-door neighbors are the ones who live right away next door for the remainder of the year, Beckwith informed Live Science. “It is an intriguing method of redefining ‘closest,’ however it is barely extensive.”

Initially released on Live Science