Mercury has been the most mysterious among the planets until recent times. But it gives us a lot of energy when we think that there is nothing which has no explanation. I was fascinated when I read about the efforts of mankind to explore mercury. Top five on mercury presents the top five on the timeline of our expedition to mercury. Please make sure that you don’t stop in between‘s as you are in a ‘Time travel’. You will definitely feel that the very ‘1’ at the bottom of the page wouldn’t have got this much life without the top ‘4’.
5. In the times of Copernicus
I have already mentioned about mysterious nature of mercury, well let me take some effort to explain its probable reason. It is the size and position of mercury relative to earth that account for the most of it. Mercury is just 1/20th of the volume of earth and lies most nearer to the sun. Together with this various optical effects gives us a blurred image of mercury, or possibly a zero image.
In this period astronomers could explain really nothing about the mysterious mercury. Copernicus who was massively upset for that he couldn't see mercury in the whole of his lifetime would have been the most joyous man if was alive today.
An advanced space technology and research facility was not there in the assistance of astronomers in this period of time. Telescopes were the sole aid to satisfy their thirst to study the wonders of our neighbors, but there was a problem. Have you seen anyone doing star gazing in plain day light? We need the sky to be really dark to have our studies done. But mercury was so stubborn that she never came out in the night.
Even then our ancestors put their best to reveal the secrets of mercury with aid of various drawings. End of the day they had some thrilling conclusions - mercury is synchronous! –mathematically it happens when period of rotation equals the planets period of revolution. I.e. in practice a particular hemisphere will always face the sun.
Synchronous mercury means, a planet that is hottest and the coldest at the same time. But whenever you read between the lines of history you always see how the time cheats logic.
Advanced Telescopes and radar technology gifted 1960’s some basic information about the planet. The period of mercury was found to be the 2/3rd of its period of revolution; simply mercury is no more synchronous, day and night varies alternatively. And if you were in mercury you would have day equivalent to 176 days on earth!
2. When Mariner 10 went to see mercury
Mariner 10 is the supreme symbol of the effort and ingenuity in the whole history of mercury expedition. It was this mariner project of 1974 which enlighted us with the secrets of mercury to a great extend. With aid of numerous instruments and sensors, mariner delivered much more than what it was expected for. Cameras of mariner took thousands of pictures in its three visits (or precisely fly-bys) of mercury. Almost 45 percent of mercury’s surface was covered in the three visits of mariner.
1. Our messenger to mercury
Hey you are back in time, how was the journey? Today we are eagerly waiting for new findings and explanations from the National Aeronautics and space Administration (NASA) of United States. Only from the fly-bys which are the part of its complex trajectory provided us ‘high’ small resolution of the planet. It even covered an extra 25 percent of the mercury surface which mariner couldn’t.
From its present elliptical orbit with a closest approach of 200 km, within 6 months messenger will have the entire surface of mercury covered. Six months, before we solve the mystery ….. Before we have something more towards the birth of the universe.
C U NEXT DAY…..