Mercury. Credit: NASA/JHU APL/CIW

Missions to Mercury – Messenger and BepiColombo

By Jenny Winder 27 December 2012

(Sen) – Mercury may be the smallest and innermost terrestrial planet in our Solar System, but it is also one of the most complex. It has the most eccentric orbit of any of our planets, its distance from the Sun varying from 46,000,000 to 70,000,000 km. It takes 88 Earth days to complete one orbit and one day on Mercury lasts for two orbits or 176 Earth days, making a day longer than a year.

Mercury was first visited from 1974 to 1975 by the Mariner 10 spacecraft, which provided the first images, mapped about 45 percent of the surface and detected Mercury’s magnetic field. Thirty-six years later, in March 2011, the MESSENGER spacecraft (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) arrived in orbit.

Read more: Missions to Mercury – Messenger and BepiColombo — SEN.

Home           Top of page