Mercury: The Party Animal of the Solar System

The image doesn’t quite properly explain that the orbits are actually those of MESSENGER, the NASA spacecraft that was trying to orbit Mercury (not the orbit of Mercury itself). Don’t blame the spacecraft though – it’s Mercury’s lopsided mass and thus its unstable gravity field that has it in a wibbly wobbly orbit (probably caused by an asteroid collision). He seriously does need to take a cab…

[Via I fucking love science]

3 Responses to Mercury: The Party Animal of the Solar System

  1. the eccentricity of the orbit isn't caused by the location of the center of mass of the planet, it's caused by the fact that the spacecraft entered orbit from a relatively straight-line trajectory at a point inside the radius of what would be a circular orbit.

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