There have only been two probes to the planet. Mariner 10, a spacecraft designed to research both Venus and Mercury, was the first. Mercury flew it three times in 1974 and 1975. The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched by NASA in 2004, and it successfully placed itself into Mercury's orbit in 2011. It is still operating today.
Yes, many space missions have been sent to study Earth over the years. Here are just a few: Venera 1, 2, and 4 were Soviet probes that landed on Earth with experiments they carried out while orbiting the planet; Luna 2 was also from the Soviet Union and it made several studies of the Moon's atmosphere; Apollo 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 were American spacecraft that traveled around the Moon; Cassini-Huygens was a European mission that studied Saturn and its moons from 1997 to 2016; and now India has announced it will send a spacecraft called Mangalyaan to Mars next year.
No, but there have been probes to other planets in our solar system.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and the second largest planet outside of Jupiter. It is also the most distant planet from the Sun with which we communicate directly.
It is currently orbiting the planet collecting data.
Other technologies used to study Mercury include radar, magnetic sensors, and telescopes. Data from these studies have helped scientists understand more about how planets are formed and evolve.
Mercury is always invisible from the surface because it is so close to the Sun. But telescopes on Earth can see it as a bright point of light when it passes between us and the Sun. This occurs every 58 days at most angles between Mercury and Earth.
Mercury has very thin air because there is no atmosphere to resist pressure. So any gases that may be present would be found trapped inside the planet's crust or mantle.
However, some particles from our environment do reach the surface. These include electrons, which are stripped off the Earth's upper atmosphere when they pass through the solar wind. Also, meteorites may carry material from outside of Mercury to its surface. This material includes silicon and oxygen, which are two elements found in the Earth's crust.
Message Mariner 10 was the only spacecraft to visit Mercury for three decades, and practically all of our understanding about the planet was based on the limited observations obtained during its three flybys in 1974–75. Mercury remained a mystery despite this initial research. It was not until 1976 that another mission, NASA's Pioneer 10, entered the solar system from the direction of the outer planets.
Pioneer 10 was designed to explore Jupiter and Saturn but instead it made the first ever close-up images of Mercury when it passed within 3 million miles of the planet in 1977. The images revealed that Mercury has a thin veneer of rock over a dense core of iron and nickel metals. This makes it unlike any other body in the solar system except Earth!
Pioneer 10 also discovered that there is oxygen present in the atmosphere of Mercury even though you would not expect it because all the plants on Earth use carbon dioxide as their source of energy metabolism. This shows that there must be sources of organic material on Mercury's surface which are releasing the oxygen into the air. Scientists think that these sources could be volcanoes or maybe even dead organisms from long ago when Mercury was more like Earth.
After the third flyby in 1974–75, the US government decided that another spacecraft should go back to Mercury to study it in more detail.
So far, two spacecraft have visited Mercury. The first was known as Mariner 10. Mariner 10 passed past Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975, mapping over half of the planet's surface. Messenger was sent into orbit around Mercury in 2011 and finished mapping of the whole planet's surface in 2013.
Scientists want to send probes to other planets in our solar system because they can provide information about the origins of our galaxy and our planetary neighborhood. They also can reveal clues about potential habitats for life outside of Earth. Probes are easy to build and relatively inexpensive to operate. Sending one to Mercury would cost about $150 million, which is less than one-tenth the price of sending a probe to Jupiter!
Yes, but only if you don't mind living your life in a capsule. Mercury has the shortest day of any planet in the Solar System, just 88 minutes longer than Earth's. It takes 67 days to orbit the Sun, so you wouldn't want to visit there and leave again until after another year had passed. The best time to go would be during its synodic month, which is about 29 days. That's when the Sun is directly over the center of Mercury's disk, so it doesn't ever need to darken completely to nightfall.
MESSENGER is a NASA spacecraft. The MESSENGER spacecraft from NASA was the first to circle the planet Mercury. It entered orbit around our solar system's innermost planet in 2011 and terminated its mission in 2015 with a collision onto the planet's surface. More than 200,000 images of Mercury were taken by the probe. These photographs provide scientists with information about the history and evolution of this planet.
MESSENGER was built by Boeing in El Segundo, California. It launched on August 5, 2004, at 10:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 p.m. UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It was deployed into an elliptical parking orbit after insertion into Earth's atmosphere.
The name "MESSENGER" is an acronym for MErcury Surface Space Exploration Node-1 Ganymede Orbiter. It was also considered but not adopted as the official name for the mission before it was announced by NASA in 1999. Ganymede is one of Jupiter's larger moons and the only moon of a major planet that is not itself a major planet. It lies outside of Saturn's orbit.
MESSENGER is powered by electricity generated by solar panels mounted on its body. Its radioisotope thermoelectric generator provides power when the satellite is in deep space beyond the reach of sunlight. This allows it to be operated independently for several years without resupply visits from Earth.
Mariner 10 was the only NASA spacecraft to explore Mercury in 1974 and 1975. It was scheduled to fly past the planet three times in order to photograph its extensively cratered surface. However, problems with one of the craft's fuel cells caused the mission to be aborted after only 105 minutes.
Mercury is not as cold as you might think: it orbits closer to the Sun than Earth does, so it receives more energy from the star itself. This makes it very active both geologically and atmospherically. It has a dense atmosphere composed of atoms of iron, silicon, oxygen, magnesium, calcium, aluminum, potassium, sodium, and copper. The pressure at the surface is about 15 megapascals (MPa), which is similar to that found over 6,000 miles (10,000 km) below sea level on Earth.
The spacecraft used to visit Mercury were based on designs by John Whiteside Parsons, who also created the first atomic reactor. Mariner 10 had two scientific instruments aboard: an infrared spectrometer to study the composition of the atmosphere and a magnetometer to measure the intensity of the magnetic field around Mercury.
Although many people believe Venus is similar to Earth, this is not true. Both planets are classified as "terrestrial" because they have relatively small surfaces and high atmospheric pressures.