MESSENGER Mission News
November 16, 2007

NASA Selects 23 Participating Scientists for MESSENGER Mission to Mercury

NASA has selected 23 scientists for participation in the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) Mission. MESSENGER is on course to fly within 200 kilometers of Mercury on January 14, 2008 - the first probe to pass by the planet in nearly 33 years - and these Participating Scientists, along with the mission's existing team of engineers and scientists, will play critical roles in examining the images and data gathered before, during, and immediately following that flyby.

"The breadth, scope, and creativity of the scientists selected is very encouraging," said Marilyn Lindstrom, NASA Program Scientist for the MESSENGER mission. "By directly participating in NASA's next mission to Mercury, these scientists will help bring us closer to the long-term objective of better understanding the innermost planet."

MESSENGER is the seventh mission in NASA's Discovery Program. The MESSENGER mission, spacecraft, and science instruments are focused on answering six key questions that will allow us to understand Mercury as a planet: Why is Mercury so dense? What is the geologic history of Mercury? What is the structure of Mercury's core? What is the nature of Mercury's magnetic field? What are the unusual materials at Mercury's poles? What volatiles are important at Mercury?

Each selected scientist will conduct science investigations addressing the broad science goals of the mission that can be addressed with the MESSENGER science payload. They will also join one or more of the MESSENGER discipline groups as new MESSENGER Science Team members.

The existing 23-member MESSENGER Science Team is divided into four Discipline Groups - Geochemistry, Geology, Geophysics, and Atmosphere and Magnetosphere - with each Co-Investigator responsible for implementation of a particular part of the mission's science plan. The newly selected Participating Scientists are:



Title of Investigation

Mehdi Benna

Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

Advanced MHD modeling of the magnetosphere of Mercury to support the MESSENGER mission

David Blewett

Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, Md.

Spectral and geologic studies of the mercurian surface

Larry Evans

Computer Sciences Corporation
Lanham-Seabrook, Md., and
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

Elemental composition of Mercury from the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer measurements

Robert Gaskell

Planetary Science Institute
Altadena, Calif.

Shape, topography, and internal structure of Mercury from MDIS data

Jeffrey Gillis-Davis

University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii

Integrating MESSENGER data to investigate the origin of Mercury’s intercrater and smooth plains deposits

Steven Hauck

Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

Contributions to MESSENGER and the geophysical structure and evolution of Mercury

Jörn Helbert

German Aerospace Center
Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany

Supporting the analysis of the Hermean surface composition by laboratory emissivity measurements and by developing cross calibration strategies with VIRTIS on Venus Express and MERTIS on BepiColombo

Kevin Hurley

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, Calif.

Integrating the MESSENGER GRNS experiment into the 3rd interplanetary network of cosmic gamma-ray burst detectors

Catherine Johnson

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada, and
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, Calif.

Investigations of Mercury’s internal magnetic field

Rosemary Killen

University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Md.

Mercury’s exosphere: Composition, variability, and solar wind interaction

David Lawrence

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, N.M.

Investigating Mercury’s composition and geology using orbital neutron spectroscopy

Jean-Luc Margot

Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y.

Optimal characterization of the interior of Mercury by integrating existing and future spin state measurements

Timothy McCoy

Smithsonian Institution
Department of Mineral Sciences
Washington, D.C.

Mapping the mineralogy of Mercury

Larry Nittler

Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.

MESSENGER investigations of the geochemistry of Mercury

Jürgen Oberst

German Aerospace Center
Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany

Technical support for stereo imaging and studies in geodesy and cartography

David Paige

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.

Mountains, shadows, and ice on Mercury

Michael Purucker

Raytheon Technical Services Company and Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Enhancing magnetic field investigations with a comprehensive approach

David Schriver

University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.

Understanding Mercury’s magnetosphere using MESSENGER data and global kinetic simulations

Ann Sprague

University of Arizona
Tucson, Ariz.

Exospheric sources and surface chemistry to probe the formation and evolution of Mercury

Richard Starr

Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C., and
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

Surface elemental analysis of Mercury with the MESSENGER geochemistry instrument suite

Ronald J. Vervack, Jr.

Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, Md.

A comprehensive investigation of Mercury’s exosphere

Faith Vilas

MMT Observatory
Tucson, Ariz.

Characterizing space weathering on Mercury’s surface using MESSENGER experimental data

Thomas Watters

Smithsonian Institution
National Air and Space Museum, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, Washington, D.C.

Global characterization and analysis of tectonism on Mercury

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as principal investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.