Missions to mercury

André Balogh, Réjean Grard, Sean C. Solomon, Rita Schulz, Yves Langevin, Yasumasa Kasaba, Masaki Fujimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Mercury is a very difficult planet to observe from the Earth, and space missions that target Mercury are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the planet. At the same time, it is also difficult to orbit because it is deep inside the Sun's gravitational well. Only one mission has visited Mercury; that was Mariner 10 in the 1970s. This paper provides a brief history of Mariner 10 and the numerous imaginative but unsuccessful mission proposals since the 1970s for another Mercury mission. In the late 1990s, two missions-MESSENGER and BepiColombo-received the go-ahead; MESSENGER is on its way to its first encounter with Mercury in January 2008. The history, scientific objectives, mission designs, and payloads of both these missions are described in detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-645
Number of pages35
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct


  • BepiColombo
  • Mariner 10
  • Mercury


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