The U.S. space agency is preparing to launch a spacecraft to Mercury — the first after a 30-year hiatus. It is planned to bring the probe to orbit the closest planet to the Sun, so he drew a map of the entire surface, and studied its geology and tried to find traces of water. Messenger will spend seven years in flight, having made the turns around the Earth and Venus. Mercury will be the first aerial survey in 2008, and the main part of the mission will begin only in 2011.
The ship, scheduled for launch on August 2, to collect information on the composition and structure of the planet's crust, its geologic history, the nature of the atmosphere and the magnetic field and the composition of the nucleus and poles.
Mercury — an unusual planet. Its density is so high that scientists suspect that it is two-thirds of the iron. Daily temperature is about 150 degrees (600 on the illuminated side and 450 — on the dark). But even despite this, scientists are going to search for water ice on Mercury — in shaded areas near the poles. Unlike Earth, Mercury has an inclined axis, which means that the craters on the south and north poles will remain in permanent shadow. A hairline planet's atmosphere is not conducive to the transfer of heat from the equator to the poles. So, the bottom of these craters could remain cool enough to lay there the ice. Moreover, scientists are considering that the temperature therein drops to -180 and below.