a very special Mercury conjunction

on January 14th, MESSENGER, the NASA Mercury probe, will make its first closest approach to Mercury; the last time anything constructed by humans was anywhere near that planet was in March 1975, when Mariner 10 made its final flyby.

But MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) is so much cooler! Of course, the technology now was probably little dreamed of more than 30 years ago, but MESSENGER will also, after a series of three flybys, will enter, on October 18 2001, into orbit around Mercury! Keep your eyes on the news; the official MESSENGER site is excellent; make sure you check it out.

This is cool science, indeed.

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