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February 21, 2011

Understanding Mercury

Nasa has been planning to send a probe, called Messenger, in orbit around Mercury. This will take place on March 17, 2011. Scientists are interested in Mercury because it is the closest to the sun, and is a "planet of extremes", with the potential to have ice at its poles. Furthermore, we learned in class that Mercury has a giant metal core, which is a unique characteristic among the planets. Scientists believe that understanding this planet and these unique characteristics will help explain how the rest of the inner rocky planets were formed. We know very little about this planet due to the limited knowledge we were able to collect by previous "flybys", needless to say this mission is thought to open a lot of doors and answer a lot of questions.


Posted by danaslee at February 21, 2011 11:51 AM


It will be interesting to see what we can learn about Mercury, perhaps we will know why it has stronger magnetic fields and more volcanism than we expected, as discussed in lecture. And perhaps it will also help us solidify more theories surrounding our solar system.

Posted by: brdoss at February 21, 2011 03:28 PM

If Mercury is a planet of extremes, it could be seen as similar to Earth despite its proximity to the Sun. For example, the Earth could also be called a planet of extremes, with geography ranging from hot deserts to the icy North and South poles (although this range of geography is probably not as extreme as Mercury's). This planetary characteristic of extremes in geography might be something we could further identify planets by.

Posted by: ktwadell at February 22, 2011 04:21 PM

Messenger was chosen by NASA as a mission in 1999 and launched in 2004. It required a number of flybys of Venus and Mercury before it get into a stable orbit around Mercury.
More information at NASA:

Posted by: christoq at February 23, 2011 08:33 PM

Mercury of course is much different from the Earth. It's obvious it has a lot more extremeties.

Posted by: elidian at March 1, 2011 12:00 AM

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