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Missions to Mercury
Balogh, André; Grard, Réjean; Solomon, Sean C.; Schulz, Rita; Langevin, Yves; Kasaba, Yasumasa; Fujimoto, Masaki
AA(International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland), AB(Research and Scientific Support Department, ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands), AC(Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, USA), AD(Research and Scientific Support Department, ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands), AE(Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France), AF(Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tokyo, Japan), AG(Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tokyo, Japan)
Space Science Reviews, Volume 132, Issue 2-4, pp. 611-645 (SSRv Homepage)
Publication Date:
Mercury, Mariner 10, MESSENGER, BepiColombo
Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2007: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Bibliographic Code:


Mercury is a very difficult planet to observe from the Earth, and space missions that target Mercury are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the planet. At the same time, it is also difficult to orbit because it is deep inside the Sun's gravitational well. Only one mission has visited Mercury; that was Mariner 10 in the 1970s. This paper provides a brief history of Mariner 10 and the numerous imaginative but unsuccessful mission proposals since the 1970s for another Mercury mission. In the late 1990s, two missions---MESSENGER and BepiColombo---received the go-ahead; MESSENGER is on its way to its first encounter with Mercury in January 2008. The history, scientific objectives, mission designs, and payloads of both these missions are described in detail.
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