Mercury's magnetic twisters

The planet's strange atmosphere may have a lot to do with the sun.

By Stephen Ornes, 00:00 AM April 14, 2010

If you look at pictures of Mercury taken with a high-powered telescope, the planet looks peaceful and calm. It’s tiny, barely bigger than our moon, and covered by craters. But up close, and seen with the right scientific instruments, Mercury sends out a different message. The sun, its nearby neighbor, blasts the tiny planet with radiation. And the planet’s tornadoes are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

These twisters don’t destroy houses and cars and towns — because no one lives on Mercury. T...

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