The exploration of Mercury has taken only a minor role in the space interests of the world. It is the least explored inner planet. As of 2011, the Mariner 10 and MESSENGER missions have been the only missions that have made close observations of Mercury. MESSENGER made a flyby of Mercury on 14 January 2008, to further investigate the observations made by Mariner 10 in 1975. A third mission to Mercury, BepiColombo, is to include two probes. BepiColombo is a joint mission between Japan and the European Space Agency. MESSENGER and BepiColombo are intended to gather complementary data to help scientists understand many of the mysteries discovered by Mariner 10’s flybys.
Compared to other planets, Mercury is difficult to explore. The increased speed required to reach it is relatively high, and due to the proximity to the Sun, orbits around it are rather unstable. MESSENGER is the first probe to orbit Mercury.
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... The MPO will have a circular orbit much closer to Mercury ... The reason for this orbit is that the MPO will be taking photos of Mercury, and the close orbit will aid picture quality ... A more detailed discussion of differences is provided by An international program for Mercury exploration synergy of MESSENGER and BepiColombo ...
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“The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.”
—W.H. (Wystan Hugh)
“For women who do not love us, as for the disappeared, knowing that we no longer have any hope does not prevent us form continuing to wait. We live on our guard, on watch; women whose son has gone asea on a dangerous exploration imagine at any minute, although it has long been certain that he has perished, that he will enter, miraculously saved, and healthy.”
—Marcel Proust (18711922)