Mercury Via MESSENGER

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I visited the NASA website for the first time today. My intent was to check out the pictures of the planet Mercury. The picture above is one of the better ones of Mercury’s craters taken at a distance of about 12,000 miles. ( I wish I had a telephoto lens to match that.)

Why explore Mercury?  For me personally, I am a sucker for understandable science with a particular fascination for planets.  For NASA scientists, they are exploring interesting parallels and differences to Earth. Possibly a better understanding of Mercury could help us better understand the creation of our planet. Both planets are terrestrial planets as are Venus and Mars but it is by far the densest of the four. Of the four, only Earth and Mercury have magnetic fields.   For more detail on the interest in Mercury click here.

Mercury would be an fun vacation spot for lovers of either hot or cold weather. Temps range from 427 degrees Celsius (800 degrees Fahrenheit) on the parts facing the sun to  -183C (-300F) on the part away from the sun. Think of the tan one could get on the sun side. You would however need a suntan lotion with a rating of 1M or so.

The NASA site is O.K. but not as cool as I had hoped. A couple of the videos I watched were at a grade school level. I’ll keep searching for content targeted to the intelligent yet non-scientific adult. One would think that the agency that sends vehicles throughout the solar system would have a rich and fascinating site. I guess that it may be appropriate for them to spend their scarce funds on things like making sure that the space shuttles do not blow up.

One last picture of Mercury. This one was a close up taken a mere 3,000 miles from the planet. The surface definition is enhanced in this view. More to come as MESSENGER will leave the planet’s orbit but return to Mercury in September of next year.

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