Messenger has successfully achieved orbit around Mercury. Yippee! Why do I say ‘yippee’? Because in such high gravity field, the manoeuvring has to be all the more accurate.
Messenger will now be mapping and taking other readings of the planet. The sad thing for me is that the invented planet-scape I had in my short story ‘Displaced’ published in 2004 will no longer be applicable. But let’s look on the bright side – I actually gave the planet an electromagnetic field before they discovered it had one!
Forty years before ‘Displaced’ was published, another author has his first story published, also set on Mercury. Of course I’m talking about Larry Niven and ‘The Coldest Place’, which referred to the dark side of Mercury. At that time Mercury was thought to tidally locked with the Sun i.e. it always had the same side facing the Sun… it was found to rotate in a 2:3 resonance after Niven received payment, but before the story was published.
Now the interesting thing about the 2:3 resonance and Mercury’s elliptical orbit is that there are places on its surface that can have two sunrises in one day… makes for an interesting story in itself.
Finding quirky little facts like these is the spice of science fiction!
I wish there were more of them. Anyone got any I could play with?