View Full Version : Discussion: MESSENGER Lifts Off for Mercury

2004-Aug-03, 05:06 PM
SUMMARY: NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Monday, to begin its mission to become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The spacecraft was designed and built by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), and will make a roundabout trip before reaching its final destination. It'll make 15 orbits of the Sun, and fly once past the Earth, twice past Venus and three times past Mercury before easing into its final orbit in 2011. The first and only spacecraft sent to Mercury was Mariner 10, which made three flybys in 1974-75, and only mapped less than half its surface.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Aug-03, 07:26 PM
I'd like to know how hot it will get being that close to the sun. What special precautions were taken with this spacecraft to endure higher levels of infrared radiaiton?

Eric Vaxxine
2004-Aug-04, 08:48 AM
I'd like to know why they have to have all the flyby's. Did the mariners do all this roundabout travel too? Can't it just be pointed in the right direction and given a shove?

Dan Luna
2004-Aug-04, 04:42 PM
It's to do with the power of the launch vehicles. Flying by nearer planets on the way accelerates the probe. The Galileo probe went by Venus on it's way to Jupiter, and Voyager 2 made use of the unusual alignment of Jupier, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

I guess they'd spin the probe so the heat wouldn't concentrate on one side.