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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • Power Play (December 20, 2004)
    Mission operators conducted a peak power test, which determines exactly how much power MESSENGER's solar arrays can produce at a given time and position. Spacecraft team members use this information to make sure the arrays are in good condition and to plan instrument operations, among other activities. [more]

  • Star Gazing (December 13, 2004)
    MESSENGER conducts a star search to make sure its Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument is functioning as designed. [more]

  • Onboard Computing (December 06, 2004)
    The MESSENGER operations team has switched from commanding the spacecraft in real time to using command sequences stored in its onboard computer. [more]

  • Three for Three (November 18, 2004)
    MESSENGER completed its third trajectory correction maneuver since launch - and its last of 2004 - trimming its speed and tweaking its course toward the Earth flyby next August. [more]

  • Maneuver Keeps MESSENGER on Track (September 24, 2004)
    MESSENGER marked its 52nd day of flight operations with a burst from its thrusters, completing a maneuver today that kept it on course for next summer's Earth flyby. [more]

  • Blazing Thrusters (August 24, 2004)
    MESSENGER's Mission Operations team successfully completes mission's first trajectory correction maneuver. [more]

  • Checkout Time (August 10, 2004)
    With a successful launch behind them and a long cruise ahead, MESSENGER mission operators are checking out the systems on the Mercury-bound spacecraft. [more]

  • We Have Liftoff! (August 3, 2004)
    MESSENGER is away! The spacecraft was launched from Launch Pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 2:15:56 a.m. EDT aboard a three-stage Boeing Delta II rocket. [more]

  • Launch Reset for August 3 (August 2, 2004)
    MESSENGER's launch has been rescheduled for August 3 at 2:15:22 am EDT, due to weather concerns.

  • Going, Going, Gone! (July 27, 2004)
    Our Webcam captured MESSENGER's final moments at the Astrotech Space Operations facility, where the team processed and tested the Mercury-bound spacecraft before sending it to the launch pad. [more]

  • MESSENGER on the Launch Pad (July 21, 2004)
    Riding atop its spacecraft transporter, MESSENGER arrived at Pad 17-B on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early this morning and was lifted atop the Boeing Delta II rocket. [more]

  • Next Stop: The Launch Pad (July 19, 2004)
    MESSENGER is now firmly attached to the third stage of its Delta II launch vehicle. Next, the team will prepare the spacecraft for the slow drive to the launch pad. [more]

  • NASA Sending a MESSENGER to Mercury (July 15, 2004)
    NASA's first trip to Mercury in 30 years - and the closest look ever at the innermost planet - starts August 2 with the predawn launch of the MESSENGER spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. [more]

  • Fill ‘er Up! (July 9, 2004)
    Even spacecraft have to stop at the pump before a long journey! Last week the engineering team loaded propellant onto the spacecraft – this is the fuel and oxidizer MESSENGER needs for its thrusters. [more]

  • Upon Reflection... (July 2, 2004)
    The drive to launch continues! MESSENGER's custom-developed, mirrored solar panels - which will provide all the spacecraft's power during its long voyage to and orbit around Mercury - are among the last major components to be attached before the spacecraft is moved to the Delta II launch vehicle. [more]

  • MESSENGER Launch Set for August 2 (June 29, 2004)
    With the successful launch of the Air Force Delta/GPS mission last week, MESSENGER's launch has been rescheduled and is now targeted to occur Aug. 2. While the previous launch date of July 30 may have been achievable, the additional margin now being built into the schedule will provide greater confidence in meeting this new launch date. [more]

  • Vaughn Named Engineer of Year (June 29, 2004)
    MESSENGER team member Robin Vaughan has been named Engineer of the Year by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The award cites her work as MESSENGER's lead guidance and control engineer. [more]

  • Closing Out (June 22, 2004)
    Adjusting thermal insulation blankets, adding thermal mass and applying Teflon tape are on the list of closeout activities as the MESSENGER team readies the spacecraft for launch. [more]

  • On Again (June 11, 2004)
    MESSENGER's flight battery returns to the spacecraft, as the pace of launch preparations picks up at the Astrotech operations facility near Kennedy Space Center. [more]

  • Awaiting the Big Push (June 3, 2004)
    With MESSENGER in the late testing stages, launch preparations will soon begin. A few days before MESSENGER is mated to the upper stage of the Delta II launch vehicle, the team will fill the spacecraft's propellant and pressurant tanks. [more]

  • Taking Commands (May 21, 2004)
    While MESSENGER sits quietly in a clean room, there's a flurry of activity back in the Mission Operations Center, where the MESSENGER team is testing and finalizing software for the spacecraft and ground-support systems. [more]

  • Monthly Cleaning (May 7, 2004)
    Despite strict measures to keep dust out of MESSENGER's assembly and testing areas, the team occasionally needs to roll up its sleeves, plug in the black lights and clean the spacecraft by hand.[more]

  • MESSENGER Team Member Wins Presidential Award (May 5, 2004)
    Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who helped develop MESSENGER's Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer and will lead a major effort to analyze and interpret the data from that sensor, has received a Presidential Early Career for Scientists and Engineers award for his work on a solar wind study. [more]

  • Clear Connection (April 29, 2004)
    The team successfully tests MESSENGER's radio system links through the Deep Space Network. [more]

  • Undercover Operations (April 23, 2004)
    Watch the Webcam these days and things might look a bit slow around MESSENGER, but the spacecraft's insides are hard at work! Most of the activity is taking place in the MESSENGER Mission Operations Center, where the team is running autonomy tests and mission simulations. [more]

  • Communications from the Cape (April 15, 2004)
    Launch preparations continue at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center, where the MESSENGER team is testing the spacecraft's communications and autonomy systems. [more]

  • The Layered Look (April 9, 2004)
    When it comes to fending off the excess heat at Mercury -- but staying warm when operating closer to Earth -- MESSENGER takes a multilayered approach. [more]

  • On and Off (April 2, 2004)
    With pre-launch preparations under way, MESSENGER's move to a summer launch schedule required some flexibility from the spacecraft team in Florida. [more]

  • MESSENGER Launch Rescheduled (March 24, 2004)
    MESSENGER’s new 15-day launch period extends from July 30-August 13, 2004. After a swingby of Earth and multiple passes of Venus and Mercury, the spacecraft is set to begin orbiting Mercury in March 2011. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Lifeline (March 18, 2004)
    MESSENGER's antennas will provide the critical link back home during the spacecraft's mission to Mercury. Get a close up look at these key devices in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Another Big Move! (March 12, 2004)
    The team is now processing MESSENGER for launch near Kennedy Space Center in Florida - but the Webcam took one last look at spacecraft in Maryland before the successful move from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. [more]

  • MESSENGER Arrives (March 10, 2004)
    MESSENGER has arrived in Florida after being shipped from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The spacecraft arrived at the Astrotech Space Operations processing facilities near Kennedy Space Center, where it was offloaded and taken into a high bay clean room. [more]

  • MESSENGER Ships to the Cape (March 9, 2004)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft left home in Maryland today for Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral, Florida, site of its scheduled May launch to Mercury. [more]

  • Out of the Oven (March 5, 2004)
    MESSENGER is now well done! The spacecraft is out of the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center after a series of rigorous environmental tests. See where it's "camping out" now in this week's Webcam image. [more]

  • Home Stretch (February 23, 2004)
    Assembly of the MESSENGER spacecraft started early in 2003 when the integrated structure and propulsion system was delivered to the Applied Physics Laboratory. Since then the spacecraft has come together before our eyes, thanks to the live MESSENGER Webcam, weekly images and a collection of time-lapse movies. [more]

  • The Camera Takes Aim (February 11, 2004)
    MESSENGER's onboard camera  steps in for the Webcam this week,  providing an image from a recent alignment check at Goddard Space Flight Center. Careful alignment of each instrument is crucial for planning future science observations, but especially for the camera, which operators will also use for navigation during MESSENGER's flight. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Heartbeat (February 6, 2004)
    With MESSENGER sealed in a thermal vacuum  test chamber, the team "watches" the spacecraft through specialized test devices. See what engineers use to check MESSENGER's vital signs in this week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • MESSENGER Roast (January 30, 2004)
    Over the past few days MESSENGER's ceramic-fabric sunshade has roasted in a test chamber, proving its ability to weather the extreme environment at Mercury. Check out the work in week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • MESSENGER Uncovered (January 22, 2004)
    The sunshade comes off and temperature sensors go on, as the team prepares MESSENGER for a month in a simulated space environment. Check out the work in week's annotated Webcam image. [more]

  • Spin Cycle (January 15, 2004)
    Making sure their spacecraft will fly straight after launch, engineers take MESSENGER for a spin in the latest Webcam image. [more]

  • MESSENGER Gets an Earful (January 7, 2004)
    With the help of some powerful speakers and a rumbling roar, the MESSENGER team tests the spacecraft for a loud and rough rocket ride in our latest. Check out the latest Webcam image for details. [more]

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