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2016

First Global Topographic Model of Mercury among MESSENGER’s Latest Delivery to the Planetary Data System - May 6, 2016
The MESSENGER mission has released the first global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury, revealing in stunning detail the topography across the entire innermost planet and paving the way for scientists to characterize fully the planet’s geologic history.

MESSENGER Data May Reveal the Remains of Mercury's Oldest Crust - March 7, 2016
Mercury's surface is unusually dark, an observation that until recently had planetary scientists mystified. But in a new study published today in Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers provides evidence that the darkening agent is carbon, a finding that offers important clues to the nature of the planet's original crust.

2015

MESSENGER's Brett Denevi Awarded Top Scientist Honor from Maryland Academy - November 24, 2015
The Maryland Academy of Sciences presented MESSENGER Team Member Brett Denevi with their Outstanding Young Scientist award during a ceremony on November 18 at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.

Former MESSENGER Mission Manager Robert Farquhar Dies at Age 83 - October 23, 2015
Robert W. Farquhar, an early MESSENGER Mission Manager and a planetary trajectory pioneer who designed some of the most esoteric and complex spacecraft trajectories ever attempted, died on October 18, at the age of 83. A 50-year veteran of deep-space missions, Farquhar made pivotal contributions to the exploration of comets, asteroids, and the planets.

Planetary Data System Releases 14th Delivery of MESSENGER Data - October 9, 2015
Data collected during MESSENGER's 43rd through 49th months in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS), the network of nodes that archives and distributes data from NASA's planetary missions. With this release, all data acquired by the MESSENGER mission are now available online - data collected through eight full Mercury solar days of orbit about the innermost planet in our solar system.

MESSENGER Team Celebrates 11th Anniversary of Launch - August 3, 2015
Eleven years ago today -- at 2:15:56 am EDT -- NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft was launched aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and after more than 6 1/2 years in transit it became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet in our solar system.

MESSENGER Finds Evidence of Ancient Magnetic Field on Mercury - May 7, 2015
Mercury's magnetic field, generated by a dynamo process in its outer core, has been in place far longer than previously known, a paper by MESSENGER Participating Scientist Catherine Johnson reports.

NASA Completes MESSENGER Mission with Expected Impact on Mercury's Surface - April 30, 2015
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., confirmed today that NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft impacted the surface of Mercury, as predicted, at 3:26 p.m. EDT this afternoon (3:34 p.m. ground time).

Mercury Crater-Naming Contest Winners Announced - April 29, 2015
The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach Team, coordinated through the Carnegie Institution for Science, announces the winning names from its competition to name five impact craters on Mercury: Carolan, Enheduanna, Karsh, Kulthum, and Rivera.

MESSENGER Executes Last Orbit-Correction Maneuver, Prepares for Impact - April 25, 2015
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted the last of six planned maneuvers on April 24 to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and further delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface.

NASA Celebrates MESSENGER Mission Prior to Surface Impact of Mercury - April 16, 2015
NASA's highly successful MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft is coming to the end of its operations. Mission engineers predict that the probe -- out of fuel and under gravity's spell -- will impact Mercury on April 30 at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second).

Nothing but Helium: Correction Maneuver Puts MESSENGER Right on Course - April 9, 2015
The MESSENGER team is pulling out all the stops to give the spacecraft life far beyond its original design. On April 8, mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully conducted a contingency orbit-correction maneuver (OCM-15a), to supplement the April 6 burn (OCM-15) that concluded early when the last drops of hydrazine fuel were expended.

Latest Maneuver Illustrates Critical Role Telecommunications System Plays in Delaying MESSENGER's Mercury Impact - April 7, 2015
MESSENGER's orbit-correction maneuver on April 6 was a nail biter. It was the 15th such maneuver since the spacecraft entered orbit about Mercury in 2011, and the third in a series of increasingly risky "burns" designed to delay MESSENGER's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface. Each maneuver illustrates the critical role that the spacecraft's radio frequency (RF) telecommunications system plays in its operation.

Planned Maneuver Further Extends MESSENGER Orbital Operations - April 3, 2015
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted a maneuver yesterday to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and further delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface.

MESSENGER Completes 4,000th Orbit of Mercury - March 27, 2015
On March 25, the MESSENGER spacecraft completed its 4,000th orbit of Mercury, and the lowest point in its orbit continues to move closer to the planet than ever before.

MESSENGER's Endgame: Hover Campaign Promises Bird's-Eye View of Mercury's Surface - March 18, 2015
MESSENGER will not go gentle into that good night. The mission will end sometime this spring, when the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury. But the team initiated a "hover" observation campaign designed to gather scientific data from the planet at ultra-low altitudes until the last possible moment. Engineers have devised a series of orbit-correction maneuvers (OCMs) over the next five weeks -- the first of which was carried out today -- designed to delay the inevitable impact a bit longer.

With the End in Sight, the MESSENGER Team Celebrates Fourth Orbital Anniversary - March 17, 2015
Today, the MESSENGER team celebrates the fourth anniversary of the spacecraft's Mercury orbit insertion. On the evening of March 17, 2011 (EDT), the spacecraft made history when it became the first to orbit the innermost planet. Over the last four years, its instruments have fully mapped Mercury's surface and yielded discoveries that have changed views on how the inner planets formed and evolved.

Scientists Discuss New Results from MESSENGER's Low-Altitude Campaign - March 16, 2015
The Woodlands, Texas -- NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission, now nearing the end of its fourth and final year of orbital operations at Mercury, is well into a low-altitude campaign that is returning images and measurements of the planet's surface and interior that are unprecedented in their resolution. MESSENGER scientists will discuss new findings from the low-altitude campaign and their implications for Mercury's geological evolution and the planet's geophysical and geochemical characteristics at a press briefing today at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Presentation materials and presenter biographies are available online.

New MESSENGER Maps of Mercury's Surface Chemistry Provide Clues to the Planet's History - March 13, 2015
Two new papers from members of the MESSENGER Science Team provide global-scale maps of Mercury's surface chemistry that reveal previously unrecognized geochemical terranes -- large regions that have compositions distinct from their surroundings. The presence of these large terranes has important implications for the history of the planet.

Latest MESSENGER Data Delivery Includes New Targeted Mosaics of Mercury - March 6, 2015
NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) today released data collected from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission during its 37th through 42nd months in orbit about Mercury.

Maneuver Successfully Delays MESSENGER's Impact, Extends Orbital Operations - January 21, 2015
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully conducted a maneuver today designed to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface until early spring.

Last Chance: Mercury Crater-Naming Contest Ends January 15 - January 13, 2015
The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team is reminding interested parties that the competition to name five impact craters on Mercury closes on January 15, 2015. The contest, open to everyone except members of the mission's EPO team, was launched on December 15, 2014.

2014

Innovative use of Pressurant Extends MESSENGER's Mission, Enables Collection of New Data - December 24, 2014
The MESSENGER spacecraft will soon run literally on fumes. After more than 10 years traveling in space, nearly four of those orbiting Mercury, the spacecraft has expended most of its propellant and was on course to impact the planet's surface at the end of March 2015. But engineers on the team have devised a way to use the pressurization gas in the spacecraft's propulsion system to propel MESSENGER for as long as another month, allowing scientists to collect even more data about the planet closest to the Sun.

MESSENGER Team Launches "Name a Crater" Competition - December 16, 2014
The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach Team is holding a competition to name five impact craters on Mercury. The contest, open to all Earth citizens except for members of the mission's EPO team, runs from December 15, 2014, to January 15, 2015.

Third of Four Planned Maneuvers Extends MESSENGER Orbital Operations - October 24, 2014
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., conducted the third of four maneuvers today to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface until early next spring.

MESSENGER Provides First Optical Images of Ice Near Mercury's North Pole - October 15, 2014
NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has provided the first optical images of ice and other frozen volatile materials within permanently shadowed craters near Mercury's north pole.

MESSENGER's View of This Week's Lunar Eclipse - October 10, 2014
As millions of people observed the total lunar eclipse on October 8, MESSENGER was also watching. From its orbit about Mercury, the probe's camera captured several images of the Moon as it passed behind Earth and into the planet's shadow. From those images, the team created this movie, released today.

MESSENGER Systems Engineer Receives Inaugural Heinlein Award - October 7, 2014
Daniel O'Shaughnessy has been named the first recipient of the Heinlein Award for his development of solar sailing, a navigational technique that exploits the pressure of sunlight to control a spacecraft.

MESSENGER Principal Investigator to Receive National Medal of Science - October 3, 2014
MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon will receive the nation's top scientific honor, the National Medal of Science. Solomon, the director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, will be awarded the medal at a White House ceremony later this year.

Second of Four Planned Maneuvers Extends MESSENGER Orbital Operations - September 12, 2014
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted the second of four maneuvers designed to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface until early next spring.

Twelfth Batch of MESSENGER Data Released; Water Ice Exploration Tool Unveiled - September 5, 2014
Data collected during MESSENGER's 31st through 36th month in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, data are now available to the public through the sixth full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER Team Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Launch - August 1, 2014
Ten years ago, on August 3, 2004, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a risky mission that would take the small satellite dangerously close to Mercury's surface, paving the way for an ambitious study of the planet closest to the Sun. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of its launch, the MESSENGER team has released a movie acquired during an early stage of MESSENGER's low-altitude campaign.

MESSENGER Gets Closer to Mercury than Ever Before - July 28, 2014
On July 25, MESSENGER moved closer to Mercury than any spacecraft has before, dropping to an altitude at closest approach of only 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the planet's surface.

MESSENGER and STEREO Measurements Open New Window Into High-Energy Processes on the Sun - July 9, 2014
Understanding the Sun from afar isn't easy. How do you figure out what powers solar flares -- the intense bursts of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots -- when you must rely on observing only the light and particles that make their way to Earth's orbit? One answer: you get closer.

MESSENGER Modifies Orbit to Prepare for Low-Altitude Campaign - June 17, 2014
MESSENGER successfully completed the first orbit-correction maneuver of its Second Extended Mission this morning to raise its minimum altitude above Mercury from 113.9 kilometers (70.8 miles) to 155.1 kilometers (96.4 miles). This maneuver is the first of four designed to modify the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury so as to delay the spacecraft's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface and allow scientists to continue to gather novel information about the innermost planet.

MESSENGER Completes Its 3,000th Orbit of Mercury, Sets Mark for Closest Approach - April 21, 2014
On April 20, MESSENGER completed its 3,000th orbit of Mercury and moved closer to the planet than any spacecraft has been before, dropping to an altitude of 199 kilometers (123.7 miles) above the planet's surface.

Team Celebrates Orbital Anniversary, Reports on New Findings at Planetary Conference - March 17, 2014
Today, the MESSENGER team celebrates the third anniversary of the probe's Mercury orbit insertion. On March 17, 2011 (Eastern Daylight Time), the spacecraft made history when it became the first probe to orbit the innermost planet. Over the last three years, MESSENGER instruments have fully mapped Mercury's surface and yielded discoveries that have changed views on how the inner planets formed and evolved.

Mercury's Contraction Much Greater Than Thought - March 16, 2014
New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates. The results are based on a global study of more than 5,900 geological landforms, such as curving cliff-like scarps and wrinkle ridges, that have resulted from the planet's contraction as Mercury cooled. The findings, published online today in Nature Geoscience, are key to understanding the planet's thermal, tectonic, and volcanic history, and the structure of its unusually large metallic core.

Eleventh MESSENGER Planetary Data System Release Is the Largest Yet - March 7, 2014
The Planetary Data System (PDS), which archives and distributes data from all of NASA's planetary missions, today released its eleventh batch of data collected by the MESSENGER mission. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the fifth full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER Team Receives Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering - March 5, 2014
The National Space Society has selected NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission as the 2014 recipient of the Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category. "With this award, NSS recognizes both the importance of the first dedicated probe to orbit Mercury and the significance of the scientific results already released," the organization said in announcing the award.

MESSENGER Surpasses 200,000 Orbital Images of Mercury - February 6, 2014
MESSENGER has now returned more than 200,000 images acquired from orbit about Mercury. The 1996 proposal for the mission promised a return of at least 1,000 images says Robert Gold, MESSENGER's Science Payload Manager. "We expected then that we would have some data compression that would probably raise the image total to somewhere near 2,000 images," says Gold, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), but scientists did not imagine then the degree to which MESSENGER would surpass that goal.

2013

MESSENGER Team Members Honored for Outstanding Accomplishments in Scientific Research and Education and Public Outreach - December 31, 2013
Three members of the MESSENGER team have been honored this month for their accomplishments in planetary research and education and public outreach. The three honorees are Catherine Johnson from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Planetary Science Institute, Ryan Dewey from the University of Colorado, and Brian Grigsby from Shasta High School in Redding, California.

Beatles Legend, Antiwar Author among Those Honored by Newly Named Mercury Craters - December 19, 2013
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) -- the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 -- recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to 10 impact craters on Mercury.

MESSENGER Celebrates 1,000 Earth Days in Orbit around Mercury - December 11, 2013
Later today, the MESSENGER spacecraft will have completed 1,000 Earth days of flight operations in orbit around Mercury. "This milestone is a testament to the outstanding work of those who designed, tested, and operated this spacecraft," says Jim McAdams of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the lead engineer for MESSENGER's mission design team.

MESSENGER Team Presents Latest Mercury Findings at AGU Fall Meeting - December 9, 2013
Members of the MESSENGER team will present a broad range of findings from the spacecraft's orbital investigation of Mercury during the 2013 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which takes place this week, December 9-13, in San Francisco. In 33 oral and poster presentations, team scientists will report on the analysis and interpretation of observations made by MESSENGER's instruments in the 2.5 years since the spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury in March 2011.

A Tale of Two Comets: MESSENGER Captures Images of Encke and ISON - November 25, 2013
On November 18, NASA's Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft pointed its Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) at 2P/Encke and captured this image of the comet as it sped within 2.3 million miles (3.7 million kilometers) of Mercury's surface. The next day, the probe captured this companion image of C/2012 S1 (ISON), as it cruised by Mercury at a distance of 22.5 million miles (36.2 million kilometers) on its way to its late-November closest approach to the Sun.

MESSENGER Detects Comets ISON and Encke, Prepares for Closer Encounters - November 14, 2013
NASA's Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft has captured images of two comets -- 2P/Encke and C/2012 S1 (ISON) -- setting the stage for observations later this month when both comets will be substantially brighter and much closer to Mercury and the Sun.

1,000th Featured Image from MESSENGER Posted on the Project's Web Gallery - September 10, 2013
The MESSENGER project is celebrating the posting today of the 1,000th featured image from Mercury. The Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) team has posted a new image to the MESSENGER website approximately once per business day since March 29, 2011, when the first image obtained from orbit about the innermost planet was made public.

Planetary Data System Releases MESSENGER Data from Fourth Mercury Solar Day - September 6, 2013
Data collected during MESSENGER's 19th through 24th month in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, data are now available to the public through the fourth full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER to Capture Images of Earth and Moon During Search for Satellites of Mercury - July 18, 2013
NASA's Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft will capture images of Earth on July 19 and 20. The images will be taken at 7:49 a.m., 8:38 a.m. and 9:41 a.m. EDT on both days. Nearly half of the Earth, including all the Americas, Africa, and Europe, will be illuminated and facing MESSENGER, according to Hari Nair, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory planetary scientist who designed and is implementing the campaign. The images on the second day will also include pictures of the Moon, where all six of the Apollo landing sites will be illuminated, 44 years to the day after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon's rocky surface.

International Astronomical Union Approves Ten New Names for Mercury Craters - June 21, 2013
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) -- the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 -- recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to 10 impact craters on Mercury. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities.

IAU Approves New Names for Ten Major Fault Scarps on Mercury - June 7, 2013
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to 10 rupes, the long cliff-like escarpments that formed over major faults along which one large block of crust on Mercury was thrust up and over another. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for rupes on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after ships of discovery.

MESSENGER Completes Its 2,000th Orbit of Mercury, Provides Data on Solar Magnetic Field - May 24, 2013
MESSENGER began its 2,000th orbit around Mercury earlier this week, on May 22. The spacecraft completed its primary mission on March 17, 2012, and its first extended mission on March 17, 2013. The team is awaiting word from NASA on a proposal for a second extended mission. In the meantime, instruments aboard the spacecraft continue to gather new data on Mercury and its environment.

Newly Named Mercury Craters Honor Hawaiian Guitarist, Beloved Young Adult Author - March 26, 2013
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) — the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 — recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities.

MESSENGER Completes Its First Extended Mission at Mercury - March 18, 2013
On March 17, 2013, MESSENGER successfully completed its year-long first extended mission in orbit about Mercury, building on the groundbreaking scientific results from its earlier primary mission. Today the team is poised to embark on a second extended mission that promises to provide new observations of Mercury's surface and interior at unprecedented spatial resolution and of the planet's dynamic magnetosphere and exosphere at high time resolution during the peak and declining phase of the current solar cycle.

Planetary Data System Releases MESSENGER Data from Third Mercury Solar Day - March 8, 2013
The Planetary Data System (PDS), which archives and distributes data from all of NASA's planetary missions, today released data collected during MESSENGER's thirteenth through eighteenth month in orbit around Mercury. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the third full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER's Discoveries Tapped as among Top Space Stories of 2012 - January 4, 2013
In 2012, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury completed its primary mission, embarked on an extended mission, saw its images and maps featured on a highly rated television show, sponsored the release of a dedicated app, and celebrated the 8th anniversary of its launch, all the while continuing to produce new findings about the planet closest to the Sun.

2012

Recently Named Mercury Craters Honor Blues Singer and Animation Pioneer - December 21, 2012
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury.

MESSENGER Finds New Evidence for Water Ice at Mercury's Poles - November 29, 2012
New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

NASA Hosts Nov. 29 News Conference about Mercury Polar Regions - November 26, 2012
WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov, 29, to reveal new observations from the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington.

MESSENGER Finds Unusual Groups of Ridges and Troughs on Mercury - November 15, 2012
MESSENGER has discovered assemblages of tectonic landforms unlike any previously found on Mercury or elsewhere in the Solar System. The findings are reported in a paper led by Smithsonian scientist Thomas Watters, "Extension and contraction within volcanically buried impact craters and basins on Mercury," published in the December issue of the journal Geology.

MESSENGER Mission Receives the IAA Laurels for Team Achievement Award - October 4, 2012
The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) has awarded the 2012 Laurels for Team Achievement Award to the MESSENGER team. The award was presented September 30 at the opening ceremony of the 63rd International Astronautical Congress, which is being held this week in Naples.

MESSENGER's X-Ray Spectrometer Reveals Chemical Diversity on Mercury's Surface - September 21, 2012
New data from the X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) on the MESSENGER spacecraft -- one of two instruments designed to measure the abundances of many key elements on Mercury -- show variations in the composition of surface material on Mercury that point to changes over time in the characteristics of volcanic eruptions on the solar system's innermost planet.

MESSENGER Data from Second Full Mercury Solar Day in Orbit Released by Planetary Data System - September 11, 2012
Late last week, the Planetary Data System (PDS) released data collected during MESSENGER's seventh through twelfth month in orbit around Mercury. PDS archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the second full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER Team Mourns the Loss of Neil Armstrong - August 27, 2012
The news of Neil Armstrong's death this weekend left many members of the MESSENGER team mourning his loss and reflecting on his legacy. Armstrong died on August 25, at the age of 82. He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969; and an estimated 600 million people witnessed, by television or radio, as he became the first man to set foot on its surface.

International Astronomical Union Approves Names for Nine Mercury Craters - August 9, 2012
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities.

MESSENGER Marks 8th Anniversary of Launch - August 3, 2012
The MESSENGER spacecraft launched eight years ago today — on August 3, 2004 — embarking on a six-and-a-half year journey to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The spacecraft's 4.9-billion mile (7.9-billion kilometer) cruise to history included 15 trips around the Sun, a flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury.

MESSENGER Completes Its 1,000th Orbit of Mercury - June 22, 2012
MESSENGER will complete its 1,000th orbit of the planet closest to the Sun at 11:22 p.m. EDT tonight. "Reaching this milestone is yet another testimony to the hard work and dedication of the full MESSENGER team that has designed, launched, and operated this highly successful spacecraft," says the mission trajectory lead Jim McAdams of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

MESSENGER Measures Waves at the Boundary of Mercury's Magnetosphere - May 22, 2012
MESSENGER scientists have concluded that waves driven by the Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability play a key role in driving Mercury's magnetosphere. In a paper published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research, the team reports on frequent detections of such waves at the outer edge of the innermost planet's magnetosphere.

MESSENGER Gains Deputy Principal Investigator - May 8, 2012
Vancouver, B.C. -- Larry Nittler, a staff scientist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has been named deputy principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission. MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of CIW, delivered the announcement this morning at the first plenary of the 26th meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team meeting in Vancouver, B.C.

MESSENGER's Cameras Capture 100,000th Image from Mercury Orbit - May 3, 2012
This week, MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System delivered the 100,000th image of Mercury since the spacecraft entered into orbit around the planet on March 18, 2011. The instrument — one of seven aboard the spacecraft — has globally mapped the planet in high-resolution monochrome images and in color images through eight of its color filters, uncovering a new view of Mercury and shedding light on the planet's geologic history.

Dr. Seuss, Alvin Ailey among the Names Selected for 23 Mercury Craters - April 26, 2012
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign 23 new names to impact craters on Mercury. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors.

MESSENGER Settles into Eight-Hour Orbit Around Mercury, Poised for New Discoveries - April 20, 2012
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted the second of two maneuvers required to reduce the spacecraft's orbital period about Mercury. The first maneuver, completed on Monday, shortened the orbital period from 11.6 to 9.1 hours and consumed the remaining oxidizer, one of two propellants that fuel the higher-efficiency large thruster. With today's maneuver, accomplished with the spacecraft's four medium-sized thrusters, MESSENGER is now in the 8-hour orbit from which it will operate for the next year.

MESSENGER Adjusts Orbit for a Closer Look at Mercury - April 16, 2012
The MESSENGER mission successfully completed the first of two maneuvers designed to reduce the spacecraft's orbital period about Mercury. This new trajectory will pave the way for more detailed measurements and targeted observations of the Sun's closest neighbor.

MESSENGER Images Debut on "The Big Bang Theory" - April 5, 2012
Tonight, images from MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System will make their debut on the CBS sitcom, "The Big Bang Theory." The award-winning comedy centers on five characters: roommates Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter, two physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology; and Sheldon's and Leonard's equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers, aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali; and Penny, a blonde waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall.

MESSENGER App Now Available - March 23, 2012
The MESSENGER team has launched a free app that brings you inside NASA's history-making study of Mercury - the first images of the entire planet, along with the detailed data on Mercury's surface, geologic history, thin atmosphere, and active magnetosphere that MESSENGER sends back every day.

MESSENGER Provides New Look at Mercury's Landscape, Metallic Core, and Polar Shadows - March 21, 2012
MESSENGER completed its one-year primary mission on March 17. Since moving into orbit about Mercury a little over one year ago, the spacecraft has captured nearly 100,000 images and returned data that have revealed new information about the planet, including its topography, the structure of its core, and areas of permanent shadow at the poles that host the mysterious polar deposits.

MESSENGER Completes Primary Mission at Mercury, Settles in for Another Year - March 19, 2012
On March 17, 2012, MESSENGER successfully wrapped up a year-long campaign to perform the first complete reconnaissance of the geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment of the solar system's innermost planet. The following day, March 18, 2012, marked the official start of an extended phase designed to build upon those discoveries.

MESSENGER Team Delivers Data from First Full Mercury Solar Day to Planetary Data System - March 8, 2012
Data collected during MESSENGER's third through sixth month in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, data are now available to the public for the first full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MESSENGER Modifies Orbit to Prepare for Extended Mission - March 2, 2012
MESSENGER successfully completed an orbit-correction maneuver this evening to lower its periapsis altitude - the lowest point of MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury relative to the planet's surface - from 405 to 200 kilometers (251 to 124 miles). This is the first of three planned maneuvers designed to modify the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury as science operations transition from MESSENGER's primary orbital mission to its extended mission.

Software Enables Efficient Planning of MESSENGER Observations - February 3, 2012
SciBox, a scientific planning software package, has proven critical to the success of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. With completion of the design of all primary-mission observations -- including more than 70,000 images and millions of spectral observations -- the SciBox software tool has substantially increased, relative to original expectations, the scientific return from the first year of Mercury orbital observations. The spacecraft team is now adapting the system to develop the best plan for MESSENGER's extended mission, which begins next month.

2011

A Christmas Crater on Mercury - December 22, 2011
The crater at the center of Wednesday's MESSENGER image of the day is named Dickens, after Charles Dickens, the English novelist who lived from 1812 to 1870. Among Dickens' most famous works is A Christmas Carol, the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his tortured journey to a more humanitarian and generous nature.

MESSENGER Among Discover Magazine's Top 100 Stories of 2011 - December 16, 2011
Discover magazine has named the MESSENGER mission one of the top 100 stories of 2011. "The 100 stories here capture scientific curiosity in all its stages: provocative early results, long-sought confirmation, and many steps in the iterative process of testing theory against observation and vice versa," wrote Discover Editor-in-Chief Corey Powell in the Editor's Note for the January/February 2012 issue of the magazine.

MESSENGER Team Presents Latest Mercury Findings at AGU Fall Meeting - December 5, 2011
Members of the MESSENGER team will present a broad range of findings from the spacecraft's orbital investigation of Mercury during the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which takes place this week, December 5-9, in San Francisco. In 63 oral and poster presentations spanning 13 technical sessions, team scientists will report on the analysis and interpretation of observations made by MESSENGER's instruments since the spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury in March 2011.

MESSENGER Recognized as "Best of What's New" by Popular Science - November 18, 2011
MESSENGER was named a winner in Popular Science magazine's 24th annual "Best of What's New" in the Aviation and Space category.

NASA Extends MESSENGER Mission - November 14, 2011
NASA has announced that it will extend the MESSENGER mission for an additional year of orbital operations at Mercury beyond the planned end of the primary mission on March 17, 2012. The MESSENGER probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on March 18, 2011.

MESSENGER Mission Design Lead Named American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow - November 3, 2011
MESSENGER mission design lead engineer James McAdams has been named an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). To be selected for the grade of Associate Fellow an individual must be an AIAA Senior Member with at least 12 years professional experience and have been recommended by at least three AIAA members who are already Associate Fellows or Fellows.

Fourth Orbit Adjustment Stretches MESSENGER's Orbit around Mercury - October 24, 2011
The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its fourth orbit-correction maneuver today to increase the period of the spacecraft's orbit around the innermost planet from 11 hours 46 minutes to a precise 12 hours.

MESSENGER Team Presents New Mercury Findings at Planetary Conference - October 5, 2011
Nantes, France—MESSENGER scientists will highlight the latest results on Mercury from MESSENGER observations obtained during the first six months (the first Mercury solar day) in orbit. These findings will be presented October 5 in 30 papers and posters as part of a special session of the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Nantes, Frances.

Orbital Observations of Mercury Reveal Flood Lavas, Hollows, and Unprecedented Surface Details - September 29, 2011
After only six months in orbit around Mercury, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is sending back information that has revolutionized the way scientists think about the innermost planet. Analyses of new data from the spacecraft show, among other things, new evidence that flood volcanism has been widespread on Mercury, the first close-up views of Mercury's "hollows," the first direct measurements of the chemical composition of Mercury's surface, and the first global inventory of plasma ions within Mercury's space environment.

MESSENGER Reveals New Details of Planet Mercury - September 27, 2011
NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 29, to discuss new data and images from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The new findings are reported in a series of seven papers published in a special section of Science magazine on September 30.

MESSENGER Team Delivers First Orbital Data to Planetary Data System - September 8, 2011
Data collected during MESSENGER's first two months in orbit around Mercury have been released to the public by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. Calibrated data from all seven of MESSENGER's science instruments, plus radio science data from the spacecraft telecommunications system, are included in this release.

MESSENGER Navigates Second Hot Season, Executes Third Orbit-Correction Maneuver - September 7, 2011
Today the MESSENGER spacecraft emerged unscathed from the second of four "hot seasons" expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit around Mercury. Hours later, mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed a maneuver to adjust the spacecraft's trajectory.

MESSENGER Co-Investigator Elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America - August 15, 2011
MESSENGER Co-Investigator Louise Prockter has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). Established in 1888, the GSA — comprised of about 25,000 members — seeks to foster the quest for understanding the Earth, planets, and life; catalyze new scientific ways of thinking about natural systems; and support the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and Earth stewardship.

MESSENGER Marks Seventh Anniversary of Launch - August 3, 2011
Seven years ago, on August 3, 2004, MESSENGER left Earth aboard a three-stage Boeing Delta II rocket to begin a journey that would take it more than 15 laps through the solar system, through six planetary flybys, and ultimately into orbit around Mercury. The spacecraft has travelled 5.247 billion miles (8.445 billion kilometers) relative to the Sun, and the team is one-third of the way through the one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet.

MESSENGER Makes Another Successful Orbit Adjustment - July 27, 2011
The MESSENGER spacecraft continued to fine-tune its orbit around Mercury yesterday afternoon when mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed the second orbit-correction maneuver of the mission.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Honors MESSENGER Team Leaders - July 5, 2011
The Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has named MESSENGER team members Peter Bedini and Eric Finnegan as Engineering Manager of the Year and Engineer of the Year, respectively, for 2011. Bedini and Finnegan, both of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., will be honored at an awards dinner later this month.

MESSENGER Science Team Member Receives NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal - June 22, 2011
MESSENGER Co-Investigator Scott Murchie, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., will be awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor that NASA bestows to an individual working outside the government. The award is granted only to individuals whose singular accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA mission.

MESSENGER Data from Mercury Orbit Confirm Theories, Offer Surprises - June 16, 2011
After nearly three months in orbit about Mercury, MESSENGER's payload is providing a wealth of new information about the planet closest to the Sun, as well as a few surprises.

MESSENGER Adjusts Its Orbit around Mercury - June 15, 2011
The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its first orbit-correction maneuver today to reset its periapsis altitude — the lowest point of MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury relative to the planet's surface — from 506 kilometers to approximately 200 kilometers.

MESSENGER Endures Its First Hot Season - June 13, 2011
Yesterday the MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed the first of four "hot seasons" expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit about Mercury. During these hot seasons, the Sun-facing side of the probe's sunshade can reach temperatures as high as 350°C.

NASA Releasing New Spacecraft Orbital Views of Mercury - June 10, 2011
NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 16, 2011, to reveal new images and science findings from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The event will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium located at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. NASA Television and the agency's website will broadcast the event.

100 Orbits and Counting - May 6, 2011
Later today, MESSENGER will begin its 100th orbit around Mercury. Since its insertion into orbit about the innermost planet on March 17, the spacecraft has executed nearly 2 million commands.

Measuring Mercury's Surface Composition - May 3, 2011
MESSENGER carries a Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) capable of measuring and characterizing gamma-ray emissions from the surface of Mercury. Gamma rays coming from Mercury carry information about the concentrations of elements present on its surface, and observations from the GRS are being used to determine the surface composition of the planet. Read more to see how these results will be applied to studying the formation and geologic history of Mercury.

Profiling Polar Craters with the Mercury Laser Altimeter - April 26, 2011
MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) will measure the topography or surface relief of the northern hemisphere of Mercury. That data will be used to create topographic maps, which will help characterize the geologic history of the planet. One of the most important tasks for MLA is to measure the depths of craters that are near Mercury's north pole. In the latest "Science Highlights from Mercury's Orbit," MESSENGER's Geophysics discipline group explains why.

Mercury's Exosphere: A Brief Overview - April 19, 2011
One of the primary science goals of MESSENGER is to study Mercury's very thin atmosphere, or exosphere. Although observations of the exosphere from orbit have begun, these data must be carefully calibrated, and analysis is still underway. In the meantime, go online to Highlights-of-Mercury-Science.html for a primer on Mercury's exosphere: what it is, how we observe it, and why it is important.

MESSENGER Kicks Off Yearlong Campaign of Mercury Science - April 4, 2011
This afternoon, MESSENGER began its yearlong science campaign to understand the innermost planet. The spacecraft will fly around Mercury 700 times over the next 12 months, and its instruments will perform the first complete reconnaissance of the cratered planet's geochemistry, geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment.

MESSENGER Sends Back First Image of Mercury from Orbit - March 29, 2011
MESSENGER has delivered its first image since entering orbit about Mercury on March 17. It was taken today at 5:20 am EDT by the Mercury Dual Imaging System as the spacecraft sailed high above Mercury's south pole, and provides a glimpse of portions of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft. The image was acquired as part of the orbital commissioning phase of the MESSENGER mission. Continuous global mapping of Mercury will begin on April 4.

NASA to Release MESSENGER's First Orbital Images Of Mercury - March 28, 2011
NASA will release the first orbital image of Mercury's surface, including previously unseen terrain, on Tuesday afternoon, March 29. Several other images will be available Wednesday, March 30, in conjunction with a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT to discuss these initial orbital images taken from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

Spacecraft Data Confirm MESSENGER Orbit and Operation - March 21, 2011
Data from its first three days in orbit about Mercury have confirmed the initial assessment of the spacecraft team that MESSENGER is in its intended orbit and operating nominally.

MESSENGER Begins Historic Orbit around Mercury - March 17, 2011
At 9:10 p.m. EDT, engineers in the MESSENGER Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., received the anticipated radiometric signals confirming nominal burn shutdown and successful insertion of the MESSENGER probe into orbit around the planet Mercury.

MESSENGER On Autopilot for Orbit Insertion - March 16, 2011
MESSENGER is now on autopilot, faithfully executing a detailed set of instructions required to achieve its historic rendezvous with Mercury tomorrow night.

MESSENGER Primed for Mercury Orbit - March 15, 2011
After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system and six planetary flybys, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury at around 9 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet.

NASA Media Telecon Previews First Spacecraft to Orbit Mercury - March 10, 2011
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 15, to discuss the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

Ten Days from Mercury Orbit Insertion - March 7, 2011
Ten days from now – on March 17 EDT – the MESSENGER spacecraft will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place it into orbit about Mercury, making it the first craft ever to do so, and initiating a one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet.

A Solar System Family Portrait, from the Inside Out - February 18, 2011
The MESSENGER spacecraft has captured the first portrait of our Solar System from the inside looking out. Comprised of 34 images, the mosaic provides a complement to the Solar System portrait — that one from the outside looking in — taken by Voyager 1 in 1990.

One Month Until Mercury Orbit Insertion - February 17, 2011
After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet.

2010

One Hundred Days until Mercury Orbit Insertion - December 7, 2010
One hundred days from now, MESSENGER will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place the spacecraft into orbit about Mercury, making it the first craft ever to do so, and initiating a one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. It has already been 14 years since this mission was first proposed to NASA, more than 10 years since the project officially began, and over six years since the spacecraft was launched.

Smithsonian, SAE International Honor Papers Published by MESSENGER Team Members - October 27, 2010
The Smithsonian Institution and SAE International (formerly the Society for Automotive Engineers) have honored papers published by scientists on the MESSENGER team.

MESSENGER Team Completes Two-Week Orbital Flight Test - September 3, 2010
The MESSENGER team has just wrapped up a two-week flight test to ensure that the Mercury-bound spacecraft is ready for orbital operations. On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER will become the first spacecraft to enter into orbit about Mercury, embarking on a year-long mission to study in depth the planet closest to the Sun. The completion of this recent test provides a high-fidelity verification of the tools, processes, and procedures that are needed to conduct flight operations at Mercury.

Vulcanoid Search Continues as MESSENGER Reaches Orbital Perihelion - August 17, 2010
Today MESSENGER will pass within 0.308 astronomical units (AU) of the Sun (one AU is Earth's distance from the Sun, approximately 150 million kilometers or 93 million miles), providing MESSENGER scientists with another opportunity to search for vulcanoids. Named after the hypothetical planet Vulcan, whose existence was disproven in 1915, vulcanoids are asteroids that orbit the Sun inside the orbit of the planet Mercury.

AGU Selects MESSENGER Paper as Eos Research Spotlight - July 20, 2010
The American Geophysical Union has selected a research paper detailing observations of Mercury's magnetosphere during the probe's third flyby as a "Research Highlight" in today's issue of Eos, the AGU's weekly online and print newspaper.

MESSENGER Reveals New Information about Mercury's Exosphere, Volcanism, and Magnetic Substorms - July 15, 2010
Analysis of data from MESSENGER's third and final flyby of Mercury in September 2009 has revealed the first observations of emission from an ionized species in Mercury's exosphere, new information about magnetic substorms, and evidence of younger volcanism on the innermost planet than previously recognized. The results are reported in three papers published online on July 15 in the Science Express section of the website of Science magazine.

MESSENGER Thermal Engineer and Co-Investigator Receive Honors - May 21, 2010
Two members of the MESSENGER team have been honored by their peers. Carl Jack Ercol, the man largely responsible for ensuring that MESSENGER can withstand solar radiation up to 11 times greater than at Earth as it orbits the planet closest to the Sun, has received the 2008 SAE Arch T. Colwell Merit Award. Independently, MESSENGER Co-Investigator James W. Head, III, was awarded the Runcorn-Florensky Medal by the European Geosciences Union (EGU) at their General Assembly earlier this month.

MESSENGER Co-Investigator Receives NASA's Distinguished Service Medal - May 11, 2010
Jack Trombka, a MESSENGER Co-Investigator and member of the Science Team's Geochemistry Group, was recently awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, NASA's highest honor. The award is granted only to individuals whose distinguished accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA mission.

MESSENGER Team Rehearsing for Mercury Orbital Operations - April 13, 2010
It's not easy practicing for something no one has done before, but the MESSENGER team is giving it a go. Mission and science operators have wrapped up the third and fourth in a series of rehearsals for how the spacecraft will be operated once it is in orbit about Mercury.

One Year until Mercury Orbit Insertion - March 18, 2010
One year from today — starting at 12:45 a.m. UTC — MESSENGER will transition from orbiting the Sun to being the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury.

Ten Craters on Mercury Receive New Names - March 16, 2010
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to confer names on 10 impact craters on Mercury. The newly named craters were imaged during the mission's three flybys of Mercury in January and October 2008 and September 2009.

MESSENGER's Odometer Reading: Four Billion Miles! - February 27, 2010
Today the MESSENGER spacecraft crossed the four-billion-mile mark since its launch. The probe has completed about 81 percent of its journey toward its destination to be the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury.

2009

MESSENGER Team Releases First Global Map of Mercury - December 15, 2009
NASA's MESSENGER mission team and cartographic experts from the U. S. Geological Survey have created a critical tool for planning the first orbital observations of the planet Mercury – a global mosaic of the planet that will help scientists pinpoint craters, faults, and other features for observation. The map was created from images taken during the MESSENGER spacecraft's three flybys of the planet and those of Mariner 10 in the 1970s. A presentation on the new global mosaic is being given today at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Deep-Space Maneuver Positions MESSENGER for Mercury Orbit Insertion - November 24, 2009
The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft completed its fifth and final deep-space maneuver of the mission today, providing the expected velocity change needed to place the spacecraft on course to enter into orbit about Mercury in March 2011. A 3.3-minute firing of its bi-propellant engine provided nearly all of the probe's 177 meter per second (396 mile per hour) increase in its speed relative to the Sun.

Time Magazine Names MESSENGER One of the Best Inventions of 2009 - November 17, 2009
The MESSENGER spacecraft has been named one of Time magazine's best 50 inventions of 2009. The NASA probe, built by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., came in at number 11.

MESSENGER SPACECRAFT REVEALS MORE HIDDEN TERRITORY ON MERCURY - November 3, 2009
WASHINGTON -- A NASA spacecraft's third and final flyby of the planet Mercury gives scientists, for the first time, an almost complete view of the planet's surface and provides new scientific findings about this relatively unknown planet.

MESSENGER Gains Critical Gravity Assist for Mercury Orbital Observations - September 30, 2009
MESSENGER successfully flew by Mercury yesterday, gaining a critical gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011 and capturing images of five percent of the planet never before seen. With more than 90 percent of the planet's surface already imaged, MESSENGER's science team had drafted an ambitious observation campaign designed to tease out additional details from features uncovered during the first two flybys. But an unexpected signal loss prior to closest approach hampered those plans.

MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury - September 29, 2009
Shortly before 5:55 p.m. EDT, MESSENGER skimmed 228 kilometers (141 miles) above the surface of Mercury in its third and final flyby of the planet. Radio signals received after the spacecraft emerged from behind the planet indicate that the spacecraft is operating nominally. Its instruments are now collecting images and other scientific measurements from the planet as it departs Mercury.

Closest Approach Tomorrow! - September 28, 2009
MESSENGER's engineering and operations teams convened at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., this morning to confirm the health and readiness of the spacecraft. "All spacecraft sub-systems and instruments reported nominal operations, indicating that MESSENGER was ready for its third encounter with Mercury," said MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan of APL.

MESSENGER on Mercury's Doorstep - September 26, 2009
MESSENGER is approximately two days from its third encounter with Mercury. This will be the team's last opportunity to practice at Mercury before orbit insertion, so many of the instrument command sequences have been assembled to be similar to how they will operate during the orbital phase of the mission, which begins in March 2011.

MESSENGER Prepares for Final Pass by Mercury - September 23, 2009
On September 29, 2009, the MESSENGER spacecraft will fly by Mercury for the third and final time, passing 141.7 miles above the planet's rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011. With more than 90 percent of the planet's surface already imaged, the team will turn its instruments during this flyby to specific features to uncover more information about the planet closest to the Sun.

Experience MESSENGER's Third Mercury Flyby Virtually - September 22, 2009
See Mercury through the "eyes" of MESSENGER's imagers with the Mercury Flyby Visualization Tool, now available here. This updated Web feature offers a unique opportunity to see simulated views of Mercury from MESSENGER's perspective, during approach, flyby, and departure, or in real-time (as the observations actually occur).

NASA TO PREVIEW MISSION'S THIRD FLIGHT PAST MERCURY - September 21, 2009
WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to preview MESSENGER's third and final flyby of Mercury.

MESSENGER Team Prepares for Third Flyby, Rehearses for Orbital Operations - September 16, 2009
In less than two weeks, on September 29, MESSENGER will fly by Mercury for the third and final time, a maneuver key to placing the probe on a trajectory that will enable its March 2011 insertion into orbit about Mercury. Even as the team readies for this critical event, a parallel effort has long been underway to prepare MESSENGER for the main event.

Upcoming Mercury Encounter Presents New Opportunities for Magnetometer - August 20, 2009
On September 29, the MESSENGER spacecraft will pass by Mercury for the third time, flying 141.7 miles above the planet's rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011. This encounter will also provide new observational opportunities for MESSENGER's Magnetometer, designed to determine the structure and origin of Mercury's intrinsic magnetic field.

MESSENGER Mission Passes Five-Year Mark - August 3, 2009
It's been five years since MESSENGER was launched atop a Delta II rocket on August 3, 2004, and they have been busy years. It has been a long journey, says MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway, "not just in distance travelled – just over 3.5 billion miles so far – but also in terms of significant milestones and accomplishments."

Sixteen Craters on Mercury Have New Names - July 15, 2009
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to confer names on 16 impact craters on Mercury. The newly named craters were imaged during the mission's first two flybys of Mercury in January and October last year.

Three New Co-Investigators Added to MESSENGER Team - June 26, 2009
Brian Anderson, Louise Prockter, and Thomas Zurbuchen have been appointed MESSENGER Co-Investigators by NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Edward Weiler.

MESSENGER Co-Investigator Peale Elected to National Academy of Sciences - May 5, 2009
MESSENGER Co-Investigator Stanton J. Peale, a professor emeritus renowned for his work in planetary science and astrophysics at University of California, Santa Barbara, was among the 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The election was held April 28 during the business session of the 146th annual meeting of the Academy. Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,150, now including four members of the MESSENGER Science Team.

MESSENGER Reveals Mercury as a Dynamic Planet - April 30, 2009
Analyses of data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft's second flyby of Mercury in October 2008 show that the planet's atmosphere, magnetosphere, and geological past are all characterized by much greater levels of activity than scientists first suspected.

MESSENGER Team to Receive National Space Club Award - April 17, 2009
The National Space Club will award the MESSENGER team its Nelson P. Jackson Aerospace Award this evening at the 52nd annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C. The award, named in honor of the National Space Club's founder and past president, is presented annually to recognize exceptional teamwork between government and industry in the missile, aircraft, and space fields.

MESSENGER Team Remembers Dr. Mario H. Acuña - March 20, 2009
Mario H. Acuña, a senior astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Co-Investigator on the MESSENGER mission, died on March 5, 2009, after a long battle against multiple myeloma. During his four decades at NASA, he played a critical role in many NASA endeavors, serving as principal investigator or key developer of experiments flown on more than 30 missions to every planet in the solar system, as well as the Sun.

MESSENGER Continues Hunt for Ever-Elusive Vulcanoids - February 9, 2009
MESSENGER reaches its orbital perihelion today and passes within 0.31 astronomical units (AU) of the Sun (one AU is nearly 150 million kilometers or 93 million miles). The mission's imaging team is taking advantage of the probe's proximity to the fiery sphere to continue their search for vulcanoids – small, rocky asteroids that have been postulated to circle the Sun in stable orbits inside the orbit of Mercury.

2008

MESSENGER Approaches Three Billion Miles, Enters Fourth Solar Conjunction - December 23, 2008
On December 26, the MESSENGER spacecraft will have traveled three billion miles since its launch, marking somewhat more than 60 percent of the probe's journey toward its destination to be inserted into orbit about Mercury.