Mercury, the innermost planet of our humble little solar system, is getting itself an orbital friend. The MESSENGER space probe (known as MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging to his nearest and dearest) is concluding a six-year sojourn through the dark void of space with an elliptical orbit around the tiny and otherwise inhospitable planet. Systems are about to get turned on and fully checked next week, before the data-gathering phase kicks off in earnest on April 4th. Science, isn't it beautiful?

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NASA's MESSENGER begins orbit around Mercury, will start beaming back science early next month