Aloha – Of late, I’ve been especially interested in the two NASA probes approaching the dwarf planets, Ceres and Pluto. But I did not want to forget a 10 and a half year old probe that is about to end its journey.
In 2004, NASA launched a probe toward Mercury. As the journey is a lot shorter than to the edge of the Solar System; it has been able to broadcast data back to the control center for the past four years. Mercury is much like our Moon in that it always keeps one face pointed at the Sun and one face always dark. As a result, there is of course a very hot side to Mercury, but also a very cold side as well. It does hold a lot of ice on the dark side… enough to put a 2 mile thick ice field over Washington, or certainly enough to end the drought in California.
Mercury shows signs of containing organic matter, but the nature of the matter is unknown. After four years of circling the planet, the probe will end it’s days crashing into Mercury on the toasty side. Final maneuvers are slated for April 24th when the craft runs out of gas, and will orbit a while longer, until it gets drawn into Mercury for a final landing… at over 8,000 miles per hour.
Mercurians can then come back out of their underground bunkers and enjoy the weather or lack thereof.