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Mercury’s Mysteries May Meet Their End With Messenger Probe

16 Mar 2011, 18:28 UTC
Mercury’s Mysteries May Meet Their End With Messenger Probe
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After traveling millions of kilometers toward the center of the Sol System, the Messenger probe will finally be able to call Mercury home tomorrow by establishing an orbit around the first “rock” from the Sun.While Messenger will gather a plethora of data about the sun baked world, the Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer instrument could help determine whether Mercury is not only safe to live upon, but worth mining as well.The gamma-ray device needs to cool down starting March 22 to function — a special challenge so close to the sun. It will measure gamma-ray emissions from Mercury’s surface to determine the abundance of elements in the crust, including reflective materials at the planet’s poles that might be water ice.On March 23, most of the other instruments should turn on, researchers said. Messenger’s magnetometer will measure the unexpected magnetic field around Mercury in detail to determine its strength, while the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer will study the planet’s tenuous atmosphere by measuring ultraviolet light emissions. (Space.com)If proven to host an abundance of precious metals and minerals, it might be wiser for humanity to choose to visit Mercury before Mars, despite the former being further away than the red ...

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