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New spacecraft Will Be Going to Mercury.
June 13, 2001
New spacecraft Will Be Going to Mercury
Intelsat Launches on Ariane Rocket
Solar Sail Repaired, Ready for Flight
Mars Nearing its Closest Point
NEW spacecraft WILL BE GOING TO MERCURY
NASA has approved the first mission to visit Mercury in 35 years. Messenger, which is short for Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging will launch in 2004 and reach the sun-blasted planet in 2008. Once in orbit around Mercury, Messenger will determine the origin of the planet's high density, the composition of its crust, and the nature of its polar caps using a set of seven scientific instruments.
INTELSAT LAUNCHES ON ARIANE ROCKET
An Ariane 44L rocket with 4 strap-on liquid boosters placed and Intelsat communications satellite into space on the weekend. Originally scheduled to launch on Friday, high winds delayed the launch to Saturday, when it successfully launched at 0645 GMT - separation occurred 20 minutes later. The Intelsat 901 will provide telecommunications and television services to the Americas, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
SOLAR SAIL REPAIRED, READY FOR FLIGHT
A solar sail built by the Planetary Society has been repaired, after it was damaged during pre-flight tests in April. Engineers now expect to launch the windmill-shaped sail on a short, suborbital trial on a missile launched from a Russian submarine as early as July. Once in space, the sail should unfurl and then get pushed by streams of photons coming from the sun.
MARS NEARING ITS CLOSEST POINT
The planet Mars is still getting nearer to Earth every day, and will reach its closest point on June 21st at a distance of only 67.3 million kilometres away. As it reaches this point, hard-to-see-details, such as the planet's polar ice caps and clouds may be visible in even small 4- and 6- inch telescopes.
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