Not quite “instant” messenger!

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Laurie Hansen.]

Q:  What do “one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury” all have in common?

A:  A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of Mercury, the innermost planet.

Why Mercury?  Well, understanding this planet “is crucial to developing a better understanding of how the planets in our solar system formed and evolved.  To develop this understanding, the MESSENGER mission, spacecraft, and science instruments are focused on answering six key outstanding questions that will allow us to understand Mercury as a planet.”

Did you know that Mercury represents many extremes for our solar system, such as:

  • smallest
  • oldest surface
  • largest daily variations in surface temperature
  • least explored

Here are seven more things you may not know about Mercury.  Thanks to MESSENGER!


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