Andrew Carnegie understood that science is unpredictable. He created the institution to support individuals of exceptional ability and passion and gave them the independence to pursue high-risk, high-reward science.
As the MESSENGER space probe approaches Mercury for its first flyby and close-up view of that planet, project principal investigator Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, explains the significance of the mission. Topics include Mercury itself, the MESSENGER spacecraft design, the thermal challenges of a mission so close to the sun, the purpose and nature of the orbital flybys as MESSENGER matches orbits with Mercury, and the six big scientific questions that inform the mission.
Adrienne Kish is an astrobiologist with an interest in the microbiology and molecular biology of extremophiles exposed to the types of environmental conditions found on planetary bodies such as Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn.