02 Apr '11, 11am

NASA's Messenger spacecraft enters Mercury's orbit after a 6.5-year journey through the Solar System

NEW YORK - It is really hot, really cold and maybe even a bit icy. It is the planet Mercury and, this month, it is ready for its extended close-up. On Wednesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first pictures taken by its Messenger spacecraft since it entered the planet's orbit on March 17. Messenger is to spend at least a year photographing, measuring and studying Mercury. The visit to Mercury is the last frontier of planetary exploration that NASA will reach for quite some time. "This is the last of the classical planets, the planets known to the astronomers of Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Far East," said Dr Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the mission's principal investigator. "It's an object that has captivated the imagination and the attention of astronomers for millennia." But never before has science had su...

Full article: http://www.todayonline.com/Science/EDC110402-0000571/Mans...

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Nasa has released photographs of Mercury, taken by its Messenger spacecraft after a 6.5-year, 7.9-billion-km journey

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