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Spacecraft Buzzes By Mercury 62

Riding with Robots writes "The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER is making its second fly-by of the first planet today, skimming just 200 kilometers above the surface. The fly-by will reveal portions of the planet that have never been seen before, but the main purpose of the maneuver is to prepare for an orbital insertion in 2011. The mission site offers extensive information, along with the first pictures that are already arriving on Earth, with many more expected in the coming hours and days."
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Spacecraft Buzzes By Mercury

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  • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Monday October 06, 2008 @11:49AM (#25273915) Homepage

    Sure there will be some conduction, but rock doesn't conduct heat terribly well. So while I'd expect Mercury's polar craters to be warmer than the Moon's polar craters, I would expect them to still be really cold. (Not necessarily the coldest place in the solar system, though. In fact, you can guess that it may be a polar region of a Jovian moon since Jupiter's obliquity is only 3 degrees. Or a Neptunian moon; tilt is a lot higher, but 1/r^2 comes in big time there as does the high albedo of the bodies.)

    L2 wouldn't necessarily be that cold for Mercury, by the way. The planet is still a warm surface radiating toward L2.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday October 06, 2008 @12:48PM (#25274637)

    AFAIK, neither creationism nor Paris Hilton has had any appreciable effect on Space exploration.

    In any event, most Intelligent Design folks don't deny the usefulness of space science, they just believe that someone started created the Universe. The position that God (or some imaginary man with a long white beard) created the universe does not preclude one from exploring said created universe.

    The actual cause is that too few people are interested in a project which will only become economically significant on a very long timescale. That opinion can be held by "progressives" as much as by "conservatives". This tends to be voiced as:

    "We could (feed|clothe|educate|liberate) X millions of starving [insert nationality/economic class/themselves] with that money".

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry