Saturday, March 19, 2011
After three flybys of Mercury over the last three years, the Messenger spacecraft is poised to settle into the first-ever orbit by a manmade object of the planet closest to the Sun. The goal of the mission is to provide scientists with data on Mercury unparalleled since the Mariner 10 spacecraft passed by three decades ago. And the more we understand about Mercury, NASA says, the more we'll understand about how the other rocky planets in the solar system--Venus, Mars, and of course, Earth--formed and evolved.
I'd forgotten about the Messenger spacecraft and am gleefully awaiting the first pictures, scheduled for March 29.