Mercury Here We Come!

Mercury Here We Come!


Learn About MESSENGER, Mission to Mercury

Before you get ready to plan for your own MESSENGER mission, do a little background research.


First, read MESSENGER: The Mission.

Then, go to MESSENGER: Mission to Mercury. At the top of the page, click on The Mission, then Goals (remember to scroll your mouse over the bullet points next to each goal). You can glance through the Craft and the Journey to learn more. Keep this page open even after you are done reading. You will continue at this site after you discuss the questions below.

So, keep these questions in mind as you explore the websites:

  • What are some of the data MESSENGER will collect from Mercury?
  • How is the data collected?
  • Who do you think will use this data?
  • What sorts of constraints did the engineers and scientists have to consider when designing the spacecraft and planning the mission?

Help Design and Plan the Technology for a Space Mission

  1. Go to the Make a Mission! activity, where you will plan your own mission to Mercury. You will have to consider space/mass constraints as well as budgetary constraints. Good luck!

  2. Click the “Start” button at the bottom of the page.

  3. Click the "How to Play" button toward the left of the screen. Scroll down using the arrow key to read all of the instructions for the mission. Now click the "Back" button to go back to the activity.

  4. Now choose a spacecraft. Note that the spacecraft you pick determines the level of difficulty for the game. The easiest, the Space Shuttle, is on the left, while the most difficult, Delta IV, is on the right. You may want to start with the easiest and play all three.

  5. Begin playing by scrolling over certain instruments. You will see the name of the instrument pop up and a corresponding goal will be highlighted. You can drag the instrument into the cargo bay. Remember to keep an eye on your budget and the space left in the bay.

  6. Once you're done playing, or at any time during the game, click on the "Learn More" button to get more information about planning a mission.

  7. After you've planned one mission, click “Home” to start again.

As you play, keep these questions in mind:

  • What is the goal of this game?
  • What constraints did you notice when planning what instruments you would bring?
  • Do you think that these constraints would apply to any space mission or any exploration?
  • How does technology help accomplish the goals of the MESSENGER mission?

Knowledge Check

Now that you have some experience with mission planning and some of the constraints involved, you can plan your own mission. Use your Planning My Own Mission student sheet to get the plans going

This esheet is a part of the Make a Mission lesson.

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