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MESSENGER's path to Mercury

These animations show how NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will get to Mercury.
Currently under development, the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft will be the first to visit Mercury since Mariner 10 did in the mid-1970s. Although Mercury lies just a hop, skip, and a jump from Earth, it will take MESSENGER five years to get there. The extended travel results because, to go into orbit around Mercury, the spacecraft must match the planet's high orbital speed by taking advantage of several gravity assists along the way. The curr...

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