Missions to Mercury
Even though Mercury is close we've only sent two probes to it:
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Launched November 3rd, 1973, the Mariner 10 probe was to fly past both Venus and Mercury. The Venus Flyby took place on February 5th, 1974 and was meant to test some of the data recieved on previous Mariner missions (2 & 5). After Venus it was on to Mars where it made flybys on March 29th, 1974; September 21st, 1974; & March 16th, 1975. Taking over 2,800 photos the craft mapped about 45% of the planet's surface. Learn more on our Mariner 10 page.
On August 4th, 2004 the U.S. launched a probe to gather more information about this "elusive planet." The probe has already gone around the Solar System and passed Earth, Venus, Venus again and Mercury three times. It has now slowed down enough that it will begin to orbit Mercury on March 18th, 2011. Learn more on our Messenger Page.