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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]

  • 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. [more]



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