Off to Mercury with a cold glance — Science News, November 10, 1973
Mercury ho! Mariner 10 is on its way. Venus ho, too. Launched at 12:45 a.m. (EST) on Nov. 3, Mariner should pass within 3,330 miles of Venus on Feb. 5. It will then become the first spacecraft to use a technique … of letting the gravitational field of one planet bend its course around toward a second objective. That’s Mercury, of course, where it will arrive less than two months later.
Today, the international BepiColombo mission is using gravitational assists from Mercury — following one from Earth and two from Venus — to steer itself into eventual orbit around the planet (SN: 1/15/21). Beginning in 2025, BepiColombo will investigate Mercury’s innards and magnetic field.