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Science, Maths & Technology

Discover Mercury: Introduction

Updated Tuesday 26th January 2016

Messenger has just visited Mercury; BepiColombo is about to head out - and 2016 sees a Transit of Mercury. Get to know the planet we're starting to find out a whole lot more about. 

Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun on 9 May 2016 and again on 11 November 2019. Both of these transits will be visible from the UK and western Europe. Mercury is also the target of the European Space Agency’s mission BepiColombo. This is a joint enterprise with the Japanese space agency (JAXA) that is due to arrive in orbit about Mercury in 2024.

False colour view of Mercury Creative commons image Icon NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license

So why all the interest in Mercury, the closest planet to our Sun?

In this series of videos scientists share their enthusiasm with you, inspired by some of the surprises revealed by NASA’s recent MESSENGER mission to Mercury. They will explain why Mercury has them baffled and excited, and talk about how they got involved and the special nature of working in a multinational team.

You will also meet some of those responsible for building BepiColombo’s X-ray spectrometer, the project’s UK-led instrument.

We also show you how to watch a transit of Mercury safely (without damaging your eyes). Live images of the 9 May 2016 transit will be streamed over the internet, so you will be able to watch even if it is cloudy where you are, but why not try to see it with your own eyes too by joining a local event? Visit the ESA BepiColombo site for links and information.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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