This is what MESSENGER might look like when it gets to Mercury. The white sunshade is on the left side of the spacecraft.
Image courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.
MESSENGER Mission to Mercury
A new spacecraft is going to the planet Mercury. The spacecraft is called
MESSENGER. MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft ever to visit Mercury!
MESSENGER will blast off in August 2004. It will get to Mercury seven years
later in 2011. It will take a crazy path on its way to Mercury. It will fly
by Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times! Then it will go into orbit
10 is the only other spacecraft to visit Mercury. It took pictures
of about half of Mercury in the mid 1970's. MESSENGER will take pictures of
all of Mercury. It will also study the surface, inside, and magnetic
field of Mercury.
Mercury is very hot because it is so close to the Sun.
Why won't MESSENGER get fried? The spacecraft has a special sunshade to keep
it cool. The sunshade is like the umbrellas people take to the beach for shade!
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