Other space science projects
A number of other space science missions are being considered by the Federal Space Agency or have already begun. All are for studies of planets similar to the Earth such as Mercury, Venus and Mars. At present no studies of outer planets or their satellites are foreseen.
This proposed ESA mission to Mercury is still under development. The spacecraft will endure extreme temperatures to collect new images and data on the composition and history of the least explored planet in the inner solar system. Studies of Mercury are of key significance in understanding the genesis and evolution of the solar system, however, until August 2004 no spacecraft, apart from the Mariner 10 in 1974, had been sent to Mercury.
The NASA Messenger spacecraft, launched in 2004, is due to enter into orbit around Mercury in 2011. This, however, is a more modest research programme than the proposed ESA BepiColombo mission.
Russia has proposed to ESA that it participates in this project by cooperating in the development of some of the scientific equipment and a landing craft, and launching the spacecraft.
This is a joint Russian project with the China Space Agency for further studies of the Moon.
Last update: 22 February 2007