After traveling through the inner solar system for seven years, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft reached Mercury in March 2011 and became the first ever mission to orbit this mysterious planet. Since then, MESSENGER has been making measurements with its suite of scientific instruments, including gamma-ray, neutron and x-ray spectrometers, magnetometer, laser altimeter, cameras and other instruments.
In the latest program from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, physicist Morgan Burks explores the mysteries surrounding Mercury’s formation and composition, and the instruments that need to work at cryogenic temperatures in one of the hottest places in the solar system.
Watch “The Gamma-Ray Spectrometer at Mercury: A Seven Year Journey to the Innermost Planet,” online now. Then visit the Science on Saturday series page for more virtual field trips to the UC-operated national lab.