In this episode of NASA Now, Dr. Larry Evans, Senior Scientist for MESSENGER, discusses the difficulty of getting to Mercury, the challenges of visiting a planet so close to the sun and what we hope to discover when the spacecraft gets there.
The planet Mercury has long been a mystery to us. In 1975, NASA sent Mariner 10 to do flybys of Mercury and take images of the surface. This mission gathered images of only half the planet. This was the first and last mission NASA would make to Mercury until MESSENGER.
Is ice on Mercury? Why is Mercury so dense? What is Mercury’s geologic history? What is the nature of Mercury’s magnetic field? MESSENGER is equipped with seven scientific instruments that aim to answer these questions and more.