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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • Keeping MESSENGER Cool (December 30, 2003)
    How does a Mercury orbiter keep its cool? MESSENGER's ceramic-fabric sunshade, recently installed on the spacecraft, has a lot to do with it. Check out the latest Webcam image for details. [more]

  • MESSENGER Prepped for Prelaunch Tests (December 19, 2003)
    MESSENGER heads to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for the next round of space-environment tests. [more]

  • MESSENGER on the Move! (December 19, 2003)
    Check out the work that led up to the big move in the latest in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Meeting a Powerful Challenge (December 12, 2003)
    Wrapping up a successful weekend, the MESSENGER team installed and tested the custom-developed solar panels that will provide power to the spacecraft during the journey to and orbit around Mercury. Check out the activity in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • In the Swing (December 5, 2003)
    This week's annotated Webcam image shows the "balancing" act the team conducted to measure the magnetic field coming from MESSENGER - and gather information critical to making sure the spacecraft gets an accurate reading of Mercury's magnetic field from orbit. [more]

  • Taking Charge (November 26, 2003)
    Through the next several months of operational and environmental testing, MESSENGER's spare flight battery will provide power to the spacecraft's systems and instruments. Watch the team install the battery in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Test Fire (November 19, 2003)
    MESSENGER's propulsion system was a "thrust" of the spacecraft's latest functional tests. See how it made the grade in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Up or Down? (November 13, 2003)
    Are MESSENGER's subsystems speaking the same language? This week's annotated Webcam image shows how the spacecraft team checks this vital operation. [more]

  • Cosmic Collisions (November 6, 2003)
    MESSENGER's Neutron Spectrometer will help scientists unravel Mercury's early history by providing compositional information about the planet's crust. See how the team tested this critical device in this week's annotated Webcam image.[more]

  • Square and Plumb (October 31, 2003)
    Just like a house needs straight walls and correct angles, it is critical that MESSENGER's components are carefully aligned during assembly. Read about the spacecraft's recent alignment check in this week's annotated Webcam image.[more]

  • Simulating Space (October 24, 2003)
    How do you copy the magnetic field around Mercury - and make sure MESSENGER will be able to measure it? Read about one way the MESSENGER team simulates the space environment in this week's annotated Webcam image.[more]

  • Status Report: MESSENGER Aims for May Launch Date (October 21, 2003)
    Gaining additional time to integrate and test its spacecraft, the MESSENGER team is working toward a launch in May 2004. [more]

  • MESSENGER Phones Home (October 16, 2003)
    To make sure it can send data back from space - and receive commands from the operations team on Earth - MESSENGER's communications system spent last week "talking" through simulated Deep Space Network antennas. See this week's annotated Webcam image for more on these critical tests. [more]

  • An Instrumental Milestone (October 7, 2003)
    On October 3, the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer Pre-Amp Box was re-installed on MESSENGER - marking the first time all seven science instruments were completely installed on the spacecraft! Read about it in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Portable Sun (October 3, 2003)
    To make sure its protective sunshade faces the right direction, MESSENGER will have to keep its electronic eyes on the Sun at all times. See how the team tested MESSENGER's Sun Sensors in this week's annotated Webcam. [more]

  • A High-Tech Rain Coat (September 24, 2003)
    Spacecraft designers usually have to worry about solar storms, micrometeorites and extreme temperatures. Last week the MESSENGER team prepared to protect the spacecraft from an entirely different sort of storm - Hurricane Isabel. [more]

  • Scanning the Stars (September 17, 2003)
    Like the ancient mariners, the MESSENGER spacecraft will keep track of its position by checking the location of stars and the Sun. Check out this week's annotated Webcam image for details. [more]

  • MESSENGER Weighs In (September 4, 2003)
    Controlling a spacecraft’s weight is a challenge for any design and assembly team. Check this week’s annotated Webcam image to see how MESSENGER recently tipped the scales. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Eyes (August 28, 2003)
    The MESSENGER assembly team met another milestone with final installation of the Mercury Dual Imaging System, known as MDIS. Check out this week's annotated Webcam image for details. [more]

  • A Clean Purge (August 19, 2003)
    MESSENGER's scientific instruments are bathed in a steady flow of extremely pure nitrogen - known as a "purge" - which keeps dust and moisture away from these sensitive components. Read about it in this week's [more]

  • Spacecraft in a Suitcase (August 14, 2003)
    It looks more like a suitcase than a satellite, but the spacecraft simulator allows engineers to test equipment before they connect it to the actual MESSENGER. See this week's annotated Webcam image [more]

  • A Powerful Move Forward (August 11, 2003)
    MESSENGER's propulsion system is now in place and has passed critical tests as work moves forward on spacecraft assembly. See this week's annotated Webcam image [more]

  • Eyeing the Field (August 1, 2003)
    The tool designed to answer key questions about Mercury's magnetic field -- the MESSENGER Magnetometer instrument -- is coming together on the spacecraft. See this week's annotated Webcam image [more]

  • Schedule Drivers (July 25, 2003)
    Check out this week's annotated image to see how the MESSENGER team is preparing to install the Mercury Laser Altimeter instrument on the spacecraft. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Laser in Line for Installation (July 18, 2003)
    Check out this week's annotated image to see how the MESSENGER team is preparing to install the Mercury Laser Altimeter instrument on the spacecraft. [more]

  • A Powerful Drive (July 10, 2003)
    What drives MESSENGER's solar panels? Find out in this week's annotated Webcam image.MESSENGER Webcam image.[more]

  • Heating Up (June 27, 2003)
    Why put heaters on a spacecraft bound for the Sun's closest planetary neighbor? Find out in this week's annotated MESSENGER Webcam image.[more]

  • MESSENGER Puts on a MASCS (June 5, 2003)
    With several bolts and a few adjustments, MESSENGER team members at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) reached a milestone last weekend when they installed the first science instrument on NASA's Mercury-bound spacecraft. Read the story, check out this week's annotated image or watch this time-lapse movie of that day's work! [more]

  • Keeping Clean in the Cleanroom (May 28, 2003)
    The MESSENGER team takes regular steps to clean and protect the spacecraft's sensitive components. Check out this week's annotated MESSENGER image for an explanation. [more]

  • Testing Time (May 20, 2003)
    They might only be temporary, but engineering models play a critical role in testing a spacecraft. Check out this week's annotated MESSENGER image for an explanation.[more]

  • The 2003 Mercury Transit (May 7, 2003)
    On May 7, skywatchers worldwide peered through telescopes and watched on the Web as Mercury crossed the face of the Sun - a rare event known as a "transit." Check out NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Web site for a long list of places where you can view the latest Mercury transit movies and images online. [more]

  • MESSENGER Assembly Under Way (March 12, 2003)
    Start the countdown clock at one year: the effort to assemble and test the MESSENGER spacecraft, set to embark next March on an historic voyage to the innermost planet, is under way. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Propulsion System Is a Go (January 31, 2003)
    The propulsion system designed to carry MESSENGER through a six-year, nearly 4-billion mile trip to and around Mercury is complete, marking a major step in the mission's development.[more]


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