Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Dark Skies
Star Parties
Solar System
Light Pollution
<a href='/solarsystem/sun/index.html'>sun</a> Sun
mercury Mercury
venus Venus
earth Earth
mars Mars
jupiter Jupiter
saturn Saturn
uranus Uranus
neptune Neptune
pluto Pluto
Planet Stats
Planet Sizes
Planets & Stars
A Light Year

Mercury Probes

Mercury Missions and Probes
Mercury Messenger  
Messenger Probe

Mercury Messenger was launched on August 3, 2004, aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. MESSENGER also has a backup launch window from May 13-22, 2004.

To become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, MESSENGER must follow a path through the inner solar system, including one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury. This impressive journey is returning the first new spacecraft data from Mercury since the Mariner 10 mission over 30 years ago.

NASA’s Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft came within 2,990 kilometers (1,860 miles) of the surface of Venus in April 2006 during its second planetary encounter. The spacecraft used the tug of the planet's gravity to change its trajectory significantly, shrinking the radius of its orbit around the Sun and bringing it closer to Mercury.

Mariner 10  
Mariner 10 The Mariner 10 probe is the first probe that visited Mercury. Mariner 10 was the seventh successful launch in the Mariner series and the first spacecraft to visit Mercury. It was also the first spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another (Mercury), and the first spacecraft mission to visit two planets. The spacecraft flew by Mercury three times in a retrograde heliocentric orbit and returned images and data on the planet.

Mariner 10 returned the first-ever close-up images of Venus and Mercury. The primary scientific objectives of the mission were to measure Mercury's environment, atmosphere, surface, and body characteristics and to make similar investigations of Venus. Secondary objectives were to perform experiments in the interplanetary medium and to obtain experience with a dual-planet gravity-assist mission.

Here is a link to the experiments on mariner 10

Site Map Observing Telescopes Books Dark Skies Star Parties Favorite Objects