Robert Strom

We launched our second mission to Mercury, an orbiter, in 2004. So about a 31-year hiatus [since Mariner 10].  I never thought that would happen. I’m involved with the MESSENGER mission which is on its way.  I’m just hoping I live long enough to see it go into orbit. We’ve only seen 45% of the surface, so 55% is unknown territory. We’re going to go back and image that and see what’s there, so there’s a lot to find out about Mercury.  In fact, it’s the least known planet in the solar system. I want to see the rest of Mercury before I die. I do want to see that, because I’ve been waiting for over 30 years to see the other part of it.

Editor’s Note: MESSENGER completed its first flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008. It will orbit the planet in 2011. Dr. Robert Strom recalled his first glimpse of Mercury’s far side on Arizona Illustrated on March 12, 2008: “I got tears in my eyes. That first look—after waiting so long—it was very, very emotional. This is a whole new planet. We have to look at the whole thing again.”