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BOEING WILL STUDY SPACECRAFT TO EXPLORE THE MYSTERIES OF PLANET MERCURY

 SEATTLE, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- NASA has announced it will award a contract to Boeing to study design of a spacecraft that will map the unseen hemisphere of Mercury, the closest planet to the sun and least understood planet of the inner solar system, Boeing Defense & Space Group said today.
 Called the Mercury Polar Flyby, the proposed spacecraft is one of 11 missions selected by NASA this year for further study under the Discovery program.
 Mercury has been labeled by scientists as the "Rosetta Stone" for understanding the formation of the solar system. Like the black basalt tablet discovered in 1799 in Rosetta, Egypt, that gave scientists the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian writing, Mercury may unlock the secret to the evolution of the terrestrial planets in our system.
 The Mercury Polar Flyby spacecraft would have two objectives: to complete the surface imaging of Mercury that was started nearly 20 years ago by the Mariner 10 spacecraft, and to discover if frozen water exists on Mercury's polar caps.
 The proposed spacecraft would be launched by a Delta rocks to reach Mercury. During the following two years it would make three flybys of Mercury while gathering and transmitting scientific data back to Earth.
 Boeing was selected to design the Mercury Polar Flyby spacecraft because of its experience in building Mariner 10, the only spacecraft ever to visit Mercury, and because of the company's ability to inexpensively and quickly develop customized small spacecraft.
 Nearly 20 years ago, on March 29, 1974, the Boeing-built Mariner 10 made the first ever flyby of Mercury. During its three-year mission, Mariner 10 took more than 500 scientific pictures of the planet, mapping almost half of the Mercurian surface. Its exploration of Mercury proved to be one of the most successful flights, and Mariner 10 was selected by the National Society of Professional Engineers as one of the 10 outstanding engineering achievements of 1974.
 Another reason Boeing was selected as contractor on the Mercury Polar Flyby mission is the company's ability to design customized small spacecraft, such as the Lunar Scout.
 The bus, which provides power and other critical services to the payload, uses off-the-shelf flight-proven subsystems and components that can be uniquely tailored to a customer's spacecraft requirements. It enables Boeing to deliver significant mission performance from smaller, lower cost launch vehicles -- which supports NASA Administrator Dan Goldin's future view of better, faster, cheaper space activities.
 Boeing has more than 30 years of experience in spacecraft design and production. Boeing has produced 42 similar small spacecraft, with an unblemished record of success. These include such spacecraft as: Mariner 10; Lunar Orbiters; Application Explorer Mission (AEM) satellites; Small Secondary Satellites (S-3); and the Swedish Viking satellite.
 The Mercury Polar Flyby Principal Investigator is Paul D. Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), in Houston. In April 1993, Spudis announced that Boeing Defense & Space Group, in Seattle, will be awarded a contract to study the spacecraft design. The mission consortium will consist of the LPI, Boeing and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., which will be responsible for the mission design.
 Scientific collaborators include graduate students from California Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, University of California, University of Hawaii and University of London.
 -0- 4/14/93
 /CONTACT: Cindy Naucler or David Suffia of Boeing, 206-773-2816/
 (BA)


CO: Boeing Defense & Space Group; NASA; Lunar and Planetary Institute ST: Washington, California, Texas IN: ARO SU:

SW -- SE005 -- 5726 04/14/93 12:32 EDT
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Date:Apr 14, 1993
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