The 3rd of August marked the 5th anniversary of the lunch of the rocket carrying the MESSENGER spacecraft. In the first 5 years the craft travelled 5.6 billion kilometres (3.5 billion miles). Its ultimate aim is to enter orbit around the planet Mercury. By the time it has entered orbit around the planet it would have passed Earth once, Venus twice and mercury three times. The aim of these flybys is to slow the craft to allow its insertion into an orbit around Mercury.

The main aim of the Messenger mission is to unlock the secrets of Mercury. The craft will examine the planet’s surface and magnetic field. By doing this we may discover the reason(s) for the planets high density, it geological history, the structure within the planet, the nature of its magnetic field and what the detected materials at the planet’s poles are.

The three flybys that have occurred already have provided some tantalising details.

The spacecraft is due to go into orbit around Mercury on the 18th of March of next year. For more information about the Messenger mission check the MESSENGER website. The video gives an over-view of the mission.


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