A joint effort between the EU and Japan is set to launch soon, aiming to send probes to Mercury in hopes of answering a wide range of scientific questions about the planet. This mission will be the first time that either has sent a space probe to Mercury. The U.S. has sent multiple probes, dating back to the 1970s.
But The U.S.’s most recent mercury probe, the Messenger, ultimately raised more questions than it answered, many of them centering on Mercury’s enormous iron planet core, which reportedly accounts for more than half of the planet’s total mass.
Mercury’s unique composition has challenged previous conceptions of how the planet, as well as the solar system itself, originally formed.
The new mission will focus on Mercury’s magnetic field, as well as how the planet interacts with the “solar wind” that interacts with Mercury’s atmosphere. The information gathered could potentially help scientists uncover more details about how Earth was formed as well.