Mercury in the cross hairs
NASA’s ambitious MESSENGER spacecraft will have company by the end of this decade, when the BepiColombo mission reaches the innermost planet.
Planetary scientists can’t seem to get enough of Mercury. The world closest to the Sun didn’t receive any spacecraft visits for 33 years — from the third and final flyby executed by NASA’s Mariner 10 probe in 1975 — until the first MESSENGER flyby in 2008. After two subsequent flybys, MESSENGER became the first craft to orbit Mercury in March 2011.