Shop Windows to the Universe

Earth Science Rocks! Select one of our four cool NESTA t-shirts from our online store, and express your love of Earth and space science!
MESSENGER will give us much better images of Mercury than this one!
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

MESSENGER

The MErcury Surface Space ENvironment, GEochemistry Ranging mission Mercury. The Mariner 10 spacecraft last visited Mercury in 1975. Since then, scientists have been interested in Mercury's atmosphere, surface and core. The MESSENGER spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2004 and will begin its orbit around the tiny planet in 2009.

MESSENGER will study a number of things during its journey. Scientists are hoping to learn more about the planet's thin atmosphere, the origin of its high density, the composition and structure of its crust and the mystery behind the polar caps. MESSENGER will first make two flybys of Mercury to gain velocity and study the atmosphere before beginning its orbit.

MESSENGER is part of the Discovery Program, an alternative to the high cost missions once used by NASA. The mission is estimated to cost $286 million and is led by John Hopkins University.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Atmosphere of Mercury

Mercury has very little atmosphere. The planet's small size means that its gravity is too weak to hold down a normal atmosphere. There is a very thin atmosphere around the planet. Mercury's thin atmosphere...more

Cassini

The Cassini probe began its journey to Saturn on October 15, 1997. It flew by Earth in August, 1999, before heading towards the distant planet. Cassini passed Jupiter in 2000 and then burned towards its...more

MESSENGER

The MErcury Surface Space ENvironment, GEochemistry Ranging mission ...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF