MESSENGER Animations and Movies
NEW! Mimic the process used by MESSENGER scientists and make a mosaic of Mercury on the "Print Side." Or, zoom into rayed craters, scarps, volcanic areas and more to explore the unique features that make up this planet using the Surface Interactive. You will find all of the print materials you need to make a mosaic and you might learn something fascinating along the way!
NEW! What does it take to get a spacecraft into orbit around Mercury? Watch videos of MESSENGER scientists and engineers captured before the spacecraft launched talking about the making of the mission, and the spectacular opportunities it presents! Hear answers to questions like: What are the challenges? What do we hope to learn? How was the spacecraft designed and built? How will it get to Mercury? What has been discovered so far? Why does it take incredible teamwork for success? You will also find printable PDF files.
Save fuel...use gravity! Spacecraft often use the gravity of planets to change their speed and direction. Use this Gravity Assist Simulator to explore how these maneuvers can be used to speed up, slow down, and change the trajectory of a spacecraft. Important: this simulator was designed to be used in conjunction with this activity and datasheet Invisible Collisions.
Mercury travels around the Sun faster than any other planet, taking only 88 Earth days to orbit the Sun. Unlike the Earth, whose rotation on its axis takes 24 hours, Mercury takes about 59 Earth days to make complete rotation. Mercury’s rotational period is exactly 2/3 of the time it takes for Mercury to complete one orbit around the Sun. In this animation you can explore this 3:2 spin-orbit resonance.
Mercury is the smallest planet. In fact, Mercury is not much larger than our Moon. In this animation you can find out how Mercury "sizes up" to Earth or any other planet.
Since Mercury rotates exactly three times for every two orbits, a day on Mercury would be quite different from a typical Earth day. In fact, because of this 3:2 resonance, you would have daylight for 88 consecutive Earth days followed by 88 Earth days of darkness. Even more interesting is the path of the Sun as seen from the surface of Mercury around high noon. In this animation you can experience this typical Mercurian day.
Because Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, the Sun would appear much larger than it does on Earth. Sunrise to sunset on the planet Mercury takes 88 Earth days where the sun would appear to grow and shrink in size. In this animation you can experience a different view of the Sun.
Want to challenge yourself with some Mercurian Trivia? If so, check out the Fast Fact Challenge which contains questions about this mysterious planet.
If the Beginners Fast Fact Challenge wasn’t so challenging, test your knowledge here with more Mercurian trivia.
From take-off to its final flyby, watch the MESSENGER spacecraft’s journey to the planet Mercury. This site contains over 10 different movies.
The objects in our solar system have an enormous range of sizes and masses. This animation is intended to help you compare the masses of the individual planets, our Moon, and the Sun.