MESSENGER makes a pass at Mercury Monday

Contributed by
Jan 10, 2008
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MESSENGER is NASA's mission to the planet Mercury, and this coming Monday it will make its first pass at the planet.

Getting to Mercury is tough; it orbits the Sun a whole lot faster than the Earth does, so we need to play some pretty serious orbital mechanical billiards to get a probe there and insert it into orbit. MESSENGER already flew past Venus recently, and will make several flybys of Mercury before settling into orbit in 2011.

I'm sure we'll be seeing pictures of the tiny hot planet coming from the mission very soon, early next week. Keep your eyes here; I'll get them as soon as I can. Also keep Emily Lakdawalla's blog on your bookmark list, since she seems supernaturally able to get pictures on her blog I've never seen before.