Messenger Mission Fast Facts:
MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft sent to Mercury (right) . The last one - Mariner 10 - completed its mission in 1975.
Mercury is the least explored of our solar system's inner planets.
Messenger Mission Key Dates & Milestones:
- 08.02.04 Launch
- 07.29.05 Earth Flyby
- 10.23.06 Venus Flyby 1
- 06.04.07 Venus Flyby 2
- 01.14.08 Mercury Flyby 1
- 10.06.08 Mercury Flyby 2
- 09.29.09 Mercury Flyby 3
- 03.18.11: Enter Mercury Orbit
- Status: En Route to Mercury
MESSENGER's journey will include one Earth flyby, two Venus flybys and three Mercury flybys before it enters orbit in 2011. The flybys will help focus the science mission when MESSENGER enters orbit. The spacecraft is expected to orbit Mercury for one year.