The Online University of Space Technology - sun and spaceship logo
The Online University of Space Technology - title
Contact us

Interesting flight dynamics, and what a view

  • Imagine a flight to a space colony on one of the poles of Mercury. On arrival in the vicinity of Mercury you would see (from behind very thick tinted quartz glass) a giant sun with a planet that looks like a giant Moon with its eerie desolate beauty, growing in your field of view. As you approach the planet you must achieve a polar orbit aligned with the base you intend to land at. From an equatorial orbit this means you basically have to come to a dead stop over the planet then accelerate poleward onto your approach vector. Or you could shift your orbit gradually poleward in a number of alignment burns until you are in a stable holding orbit passing over the base, then, once cleared to land, carry out a standard deorbit burn bring you down towards the base. It depends on how much of a hurry you're in and so on, but it would be more visually interesting than a regular Moon trip except you wouldn't have the Earth visible in the sky - except as a bright start if its not close to the Sun, along with Venus which could be very bright if it's close to Venus.

    So far only Mercury Messenger has orbited the innermost planet and although it is now almost 1 year since it finally crashed on the Mercurian surface the results are still being analysed and producing interesting insight into planetary science. In particular the distribution of elements in the composition of Mercury indicates that it probably had a far higher temperature than the Earth's Moon during its formation, despite the many similarities in appearance between the two bodies.

Breaking News