Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are terrestrial (rocky) planets. Of these, Mercury is the least explored. Only one other mission explored Mercury on a flyby. In the 1970’s, the Mariner 10 space mission took 10 photographs covering only half the planet’s surface.
“Understanding this small and dense planet, which is subject to extreme temperatures, is crucial in the understanding of the formation of our own planet ,”according to Planetarium Director Dennis Machnik.
The MESSENGER Space Mission, to be launched this July, will venture to Mercury to orbit it by 2011.
The Mark Sylvestre Planetarium presentation at 7 p.m May 11 will focus on this mission, discussing the planet Mercury and the questions we have, the MESSENGER mission and spacecraft design, and the instrumentation. The May skies will also be discussed.
The presenters will be Sally Jean Jensen, Solar System Ambassador and Chandra Teacher Resource Agent and Dennis Machnik, associate professor of physics at Plymouth State University.
For further information call Dr. Machnik at 535-2748.