Space Science Reviews

, Volume 132, Issue 2–4, pp 611–645 | Cite as

Missions to Mercury

  • André Balogh
  • Réjean Grard
  • Sean C. Solomon
  • Rita Schulz
  • Yves Langevin
  • Yasumasa Kasaba
  • Masaki Fujimoto


Mercury is a very difficult planet to observe from the Earth, and space missions that target Mercury are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the planet. At the same time, it is also difficult to orbit because it is deep inside the Sun’s gravitational well. Only one mission has visited Mercury; that was Mariner 10 in the 1970s. This paper provides a brief history of Mariner 10 and the numerous imaginative but unsuccessful mission proposals since the 1970s for another Mercury mission. In the late 1990s, two missions—MESSENGER and BepiColombo—received the go-ahead; MESSENGER is on its way to its first encounter with Mercury in January 2008. The history, scientific objectives, mission designs, and payloads of both these missions are described in detail.


Mercury Mariner 10 MESSENGER BepiColombo 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Balogh
    • 1
  • Réjean Grard
    • 2
  • Sean C. Solomon
    • 3
  • Rita Schulz
    • 2
  • Yves Langevin
    • 4
  • Yasumasa Kasaba
    • 5
  • Masaki Fujimoto
    • 5
  1. 1.International Space Science InstituteBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Research and Scientific Support DepartmentESANoordwijkThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Terrestrial MagnetismCarnegie Institution of WashingtonWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Institut d’Astrophysique SpatialeOrsayFrance
  5. 5.Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)TokyoJapan

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