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Space & Astronomy

Spacecraft becomes first to orbit Mercury

By T.K. Randall
March 18, 2011 · Comment icon 11 comments



Image Credit: NASA
NASA's Messenger spacecraft has successfully become the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury.
Launched in 2004 it has taken over six years for Messenger to reach its destination, now that it has reached Mercury it will be able to begin transmitting data back in early April including high resolution images of the planet's surface.
NASA made history tonight as the Messenger probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the tiny planet Mercury. Launched in 2004, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging mission marks the first time a craft has gone near Mercury since 1975, when NASA's Mariner 10 probe conducted flybys.


Source: National Geographic | Comments (11)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 years ago
Great stuff. Can't wait to see the pictures. There is more on this story, including images taken by MESSENGER during its 3 flybys of Mercury (and it's flyby of Venus) in the Exploration Of Mercury thread. As and when images are published from orbit I will post them there.
Comment icon #3 Posted by 27vet 12 years ago
There is more on this story, including images taken by MESSENGER during its 3 flybys of Mercury (and it's flyby of Venus) in the Exploration Of Mercury thread. As and when images are published from orbit I will post them there. Cheers mate!
Comment icon #4 Posted by MedicTJ 12 years ago
Why we're spending this amount of money and resources on Mercury is beyond me. The same amount could have been spent on sending AND landing a craft on Europa. And I'm pretty sure that if you asked the scientific majority to choose between Mercury and Europa......they'd overwhelmingly choose the latter.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 years ago
Why we're spending this amount of money and resources on Mercury is beyond me. The same amount could have been spent on sending AND landing a craft on Europa. And I'm pretty sure that if you asked the scientific majority to choose between Mercury and Europa......they'd overwhelmingly choose the latter. Don't mistake what you want with what astronomers want. This is a Discovery class probe, which means that it is relatively cheap. A Europa probe will be a very expensive vehicle. It has taken 15 years of planning to get this mission off the ground. NASA have learned a huge amount about the passi... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Timonthy 12 years ago
Can't wait for the Mercury 'anomalies'! Seriously though I'm looking forward to some nice high res images!
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 years ago
Seriously though I'm looking forward to some nice high res images! Before entering orbit MESSENGER made 3 flybys of Mercury. During those flybys it has already produced images at a far higher resolution than Mariner 10 achieved back in the 1970's. It has also images parts of the planet never seen before. Many of those images have already been posted in the Exploration Of Mercury thread.
Comment icon #8 Posted by DiMSoE 12 years ago
ok im new to this today so please dont think im a stupid guy.. how do i get onto the thread to view these images??? i click view artical and get redirected to the source of the artical.
Comment icon #9 Posted by danielost 12 years ago
Why we're spending this amount of money and resources on Mercury is beyond me. The same amount could have been spent on sending AND landing a craft on Europa. And I'm pretty sure that if you asked the scientific majority to choose between Mercury and Europa......they'd overwhelmingly choose the latter. we are planning a mission to Europa, but before we go there we are trying to be sure we don't contaminate the eco system there if there is one. bacteria can survive in deep space.
Comment icon #10 Posted by danielost 12 years ago
ok im new to this today so please dont think im a stupid guy.. how do i get onto the thread to view these images??? i click view artical and get redirected to the source of the artical. click on the blue underlined link in the post.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 years ago
ok im new to this today so please dont think im a stupid guy.. how do i get onto the thread to view these images??? i click view artical and get redirected to the source of the artical. Click my link and it will take you to the Exploration Of Mercury thread. There are many pages in that thread. At the top and bottom of the page you will find page numbers, like this: You can use those to navigate through the thread. It will depend on how you have your computer set up exactly how many pages the thread will contain (for me it is 27). If you click on the left han part it opens a box like this: Typ... [More]


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