The launch of MESSENGER, the first mission to Mercury since 1974, has just been delayed until after June 30, 2004. The planetary gravity-assist flyby schedule has changed because of the delay. MESSENGER will now fly once around the Earth, twice around Venus, and three times around Mercury before entering orbit around Mercury in March 2011 (delayed from 2009).

By the way, the image you see at the top of your screen is of Mercury (not the Moon) taken thirty years ago by Mariner 10. To date there have been no other missions to Mercury. Thanks to NASA/JPL for public access to many of their mission images.

[2008-09-01 Update – Frontier Channel has since been updated with new images of Mercury taken by MESSENGER; the old headers have been removed.]

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).