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July 28, 2014 - Return to Mercury

Return to Mercury The closest planet to the Sun is also the least studied planet in the inner solar system. By the end of the Twentieth Century, only a single space mission, Mariner 10, had successfully visited Mercury. Its three flybys of Mercury in 1974 and 1975 revealed a battered and geologically complex world, and left scientists eager to learn more. Ten years ago this week, NASA launched the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft (MESSENGER), which flew past Mercury three times before finally entering orbit around the planet in 2011, the first spacecraft to do so. This MESSENGER image of the bright Dominici crater reveals distinct rays extending from the crater that indicate it was formed by an impact. Dominici is about 20 km (12 mi) in diameter.

Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington

Weekly Calendar

July 28 - August 3, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 28

Delta Aquarid meteor shower

1851: First photo of total solar eclipse
1964: Ranger 7 lunar probe launched
1973: Skylab 3 crew launched on 59-day mission

Moon phase Tuesday 29

Mercury 6° south of Pollux
Delta Aquarid meteor shower

1985: STS-51F Challenger launched

Moon phase Wednesday 30

1965: SA-10 launched, last Saturn 1 vehicle
1971: Apollo 15 lands on Moon

Moon phase Thursday 31

1969: Mariner 6 flies by Mars
1971: First vehicle driven on Moon by Apollo 15 astronauts Scott & Irwin
1992: STS-46 Atlantis launched
1999: Lunar Prospector mission ends

Moon phase Friday 1

1818: Maria Mitchell born
1967: Lunar Orbiter V launched
1968: Saturn V production ends
1973: First X-24B lifting body glide test

Moon phase Saturday 2

1971: Apollo 15 lunar module Falcon leaves Moon in first televised lunar liftoff
1991: STS-43 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Sunday 3

First Qtr Moon 8:50 PM ET
Mars 2° south of Moon

2004: MESSENGER spacecraft launched to Mercury
2005: First in-flight space shuttle repair

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