The MESSENGER orbiter’s January 2008 flyby of the planet Mercury was historic. The last time a spacecraft visited was 1975, and it only mapped half the planet. MESSENGER is now sending back a complete picture of Mercury, shedding light on its geological history. But the ongoing mission will return much more than images. Its data on the planet’s core, magnetic field, composition, and other attributes will help scientists answer pressing questions about the evolution of the terrestrial planets and even the Solar System itself. In the feature video, watch the MESSENGER science team react as the orbiter’s first images of Mercury roll in. To explore the images in detail, click on the slide show at left. Find out more on the mission by clicking on the essay "First Planet Finishes Last."
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Science Bulletins offers interactive looks at current research about the natural world. Published in October 2008, this Astro Feature provides a unparalleled look at Mercury. It includes:
- An eight-minute feature video available in three download speeds
- A related essay, First Planet Finishes Last
- An interactive, MESSENGER Views Mercury
- A list of related links
- A pop-up glossary of related terms
- Educator resources that include discussion questions and a research activity