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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
MESSENGER will give us much better images of Mercury than this one!
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Courtesy of NASA

MESSENGER

The MErcury Surface Space ENvironment, GEochemistry Ranging mission (MESSENGER) was chosen as the next mission to 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 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.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA