Sunday, January 30, 2011

45 Days until Mercury Orbit Insertion

Humanity will chalk up another grand astronomical engineering achievement when the MESSENGER probe inserts itself into orbit around planet Mercury in 45 days.

"Hello Mercury, it's me, MESSENGER."
It looks like the moon, but it hides a stupid huge amount of vast exploitable riches

The date of insertion will be  March 18, 2011. For the first time we will be able to study in great detail, this, the least known planet*. MESSENGER will probe the surface for a year, but you know how these things go, so the mission will probably be running for years.

Click here for NASA's official page on Project MESSENGER

Click here for the Wikipedia description and links

* - OK, OK if you're old school and still think Pluto is a planet, then technically we know less about Pluto and its moons Charon, Nix, and Hydra, but don't worry New Horizons is paying a visit and in 2015 we'll know more.

Mark my words: one hundred years from now there will be many fortunes made from the mining of Mercury. The Moon is so-o close and beckons first. Mars is for romantic dreamers and eventually we'll get there too. But Mercury is for businessmen who want to make a buck. Why?

In a word: heavy metals and mineral wealth. As the solar system formed, the heavier stuff moved in toward to Sun. The Sun itself has the greatest wealth in the heavy stuff and minerals, but that stuff is all at the Sun's core where we can't reach it for the next thousand years.

Mercury on the other hand is close at hand. The heavy stuff that was strongly drawn in toward the Sun's gravity well at a wide angle and didn't fall in coalesced into a very heavy planet very close by, indeed  ... the closest ...

Planet Mercury, richest of planets. A planet to make mining companies drool.

This achievement brought to you fellow humans by The United States of America, leading the way in astronomical engineering achievements since we figured out how to launched an Explorer satellite  on January 31, 1958, 53 years ago...

You're welcome. But no, thank you very much, for where would America be without you?

Here's something else from the USA that I think we can also all wrap at least our heads around. Pop the champagne, it's party time! Take it away, Joan! ....

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