Going to Mercury

With temperatures ranging from 801 to -279 degrees F (that’s 427 to -173 degrees C), Mercury isn’t really the sort of place you’d want to go on vacation. But hostile though it may be, you would think we’d still have done loads of exploration there with spacecraft… Well actually, it has not been visited since 1975, so when NASA’s Messenger probe makes its first flyby on Monday January 14 2008, we should be seeing a new dawn in the exploration of this strange planet. Considering the technological advances we’ve made in the last 30 years, the results of this probe should be very exciting.This mission raises an interesting question: is it right to send loads of missions to Mars just because that is the first new planet humans are most likely to step foot on, while largely neglecting the other planets (with the exception of Saturn), where important scientific discoveries could be made? Leave your opinion in the comments below.Artist's impression of Messenger flying past Mercury | Image: NASA

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