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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • MESSENGER ZEROS IN ON MERCURY (December 19, 2007)
    MESSENGER’s nineteenth trajectory-correction maneuver (TCM-19) completed on December 19 lasted 110 seconds and adjusted the spacecraft's velocity by 1.1 meters per second (3.6 feet per second). The movement targeted the spacecraft close to the intended aim point 200 km (124 miles) above the night-side surface of Mercury for the probe's first flyby of that planet on January 14, 2008. [more]

  • MESSENGER Completes Fifty Percent of Cruise Phase (December 3, 2007)
    On Friday, November 30, the MESSENGER team resumed daily contact with its Mercury-bound spacecraft. Engineers had suspended their contact schedule on November 13 as the Sun-Earth-Probe angle passed below 1° — entering a period known as solar conjunction, when the spacecraft’s trajectory moved it to the opposite side of the Sun from Earth and out of radio contact with NASA’s Deep Space Network for several weeks. [more]

  • MESSENGER Completes Fifty Percent of Cruise Phase (November 19, 2007)
    On November 25, MESSENGER will have reached the halfway point in its 6.6-year cruise phase, as measured by travel time. In late January 2008 – shortly after its first flyby of Mercury – the probe’s cruise speed (relative to the Sun) will reach its highest since launch: 62.5 kilometers per second (or 140,000 miles per hour). [more]

  • NASA Selects 23 Participating Scientists for MESSENGER Mission to Mercury (November 16, 2007)
    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 during before, during, and immediately following that flyby. [more]

  • Sun Cuts into MESSENGER's Dance around the Solar System (October 30, 2007)
    MESSENGER entered solar conjunction on October 26, when the spacecraft’s trajectory moved it behind the Sun and out of clear view from Earth for several weeks. The team has just a limited time left before the Sun’s interference with the probe’s radio transmission severely limits communication with mission operations at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. [more]

  • Critical Deep-Space Maneuver Targets MESSENGER for Its First Mercury Encounter (October 17, 2007)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft delivered a critical deep-space maneuver on Wednesday - 155 million miles (250 million kilometers) from Earth - successfully firing its large bi-propellant engine to change the probe's trajectory and target it for its first flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Wraps Up Radio Science Test (September 27, 2007)
    MESSENGER's Radio Science (RS) team recently completed a month-long orbit simulation test to measure Doppler performance using the probe's low-gain radio frequency (RF) antennas. [more]

  • MESSENGER Approaches Two Billion Miles! (September 12, 2007)
    On September 13, MESSENGER will reach the two billion-mile mark, placing the spacecraft about two-fifths of the way toward its destination to orbit Mercury. [more]

  • MESSENGER TO FEEL THE HEAT DURING FIRST "HOT" PERIAPSIS (August 31, 2007)
    Tomorrow, the MESSENGER probe will come within 0.33 AU of the Sun-49.67 million kilometers (or 30.86 million miles). "This is the closest we've approached the Sun during the mission so far," notes MESSENGER's Deputy Project Scientist Brian Anderson of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. [more]

  • Happy Anniversary, MESSENGER! (August 3, 2007)
    Today marks the third anniversary of MESSENGER's launch. Since its August 3, 2004, liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., the probe has traveled nearly 1.9 billion miles on its circuitous journey from Earth to Mercury. [more]

  • SEE MESSENGER's "FAREWELL TO VENUS" VIDEO (July 23, 2007)
    During its second and final close encounter with Venus on June 5, MESSENGER's wide angle camera captured a sequence of 50 images showing the planet disappearing in the distance. [more]

  • CATCH MERCURY BEFORE DAWN ON JULY 20 (July 18, 2007)
    Mercury reaches its greatest western elongation Friday, and hosts of the Earth & Sky radio program will discuss this prime viewing opportunity on their show tomorrow, July 19. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Releases First Images From Venus 2 Flyby (June 14, 2007)
    The first images from MESSENGER's second flyby of Venus are in! The Mercury-bound probe flew within 338 kilometers (210 miles) of Venus on June 5, obtaining a gravity assist that shrank the radius of the probe's orbit around the Sun, pulling it closer to Mercury. But the encounter also allowed the MESSENGER team to give its two cameras, known as the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), a thorough workout. [more]

  • MESSENGER Makes Its Debut in the Smithsonian Museum (June 7, 2007)
    As part of the Venus 2 flyby activities this week, a 1:5 scale model of the MESSENGER spacecraft built by carpenters at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., was hung in the Mercury exhibit in the Exploring the Planets Gallery of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. [more]

  • MESSENGER Completes Second Flyby of Venus, Makes Its Way toward First Flyby of Mercury in 33 Years (June 5, 2007)
    INASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft swung by Venus for the second time early this evening for a gravity assist that shrank the radius of its orbit around the Sun, pulling it closer to Mercury. At nearly 15,000 miles per hour, this change in MESSENGER's velocity is the largest of the mission. [more]

  • Watch Venus And Mercury This Week (And Imagine Messenger Flying By Venus) (June 1, 2007)
    In the coming evenings, sky watchers can acquaint themselves with the MESSENGER spacecraft mission to Mercury. Late afternoon on Tuesday, June 5, 2007, MESSENGER will fly within about 210 miles (340 kilometers) of the surface of the planet Venus, and get a gravity kick toward its ultimate destination, the sun-baked planet Mercury. [more]

  • NASA TO PREVIEW MERCURY MISSION'S FLIGHT PAST VENUS (May 30, 2007)
    WASHINGTON - NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 4, to preview the June 5 flyby of the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft through the Venus system. The probe, the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun, will use Venus's gravity once again to guide it closer to Mercury's orbit. [more]

  • MESSENGER ZEROS IN ON VENUS (May 25, 2007)
    The MESSENGER trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-16) completed on May 25 lasted 36 seconds and adjusted the spacecraft's velocity by 0.212 meters per second (0.696 feet per second). The movement targeted the spacecraft close to the intended aim point 337 kilometers (209 miles) above the surface of Venus for the probe's June 5 flyby of that planet. [more]

  • MESSENGER PI DISCUSSES SIGNIFICANCE OF NEWS THAT MERCURY HAS MOLTEN CORE (May 2, 2007)
    MESSENGER Team Member Stan Peale was among the researchers to recently announce the discovery of strong evidence that the planet Mercury has a molten core. The finding explains a more than three-decade old planetary mystery that began with the flight of the Mariner 10 spacecraft. MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon talks about the significance of this discovery at a Science magazine podcast, available online at http://podcasts.aaas.org/science_podcast/SciencePodcast_070504.mp3. Dr. Solomon's summary of the team's work and its importance, written as a "Perspectives" piece in the May 4, 2007, issue of Science, is available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/316/5825/702. [more]

  • MESSENGER LINES UP FOR SECOND PASS AT VENUS (May 2, 2007)
    The MESSENGER trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-15) completed on April 25 lasted 140 seconds and adjusted the spacecraft's velocity by 0.568 meters per second (1.86 feet per second). One more course correction will be performed before the probe's second Venus flyby on June 5 to ensure precise targeting of the gravity assist. [more]

  • MESSENGER COMPLETES FORTY PERCENT OF CRUISE PHASE (April 2, 2007)
    On March 28, MESSENGER completed 40% of its five-year cruise phase, as measured by travel time. The probe has completed one-third of its flight distance on its trip to Mercury, and its average cruise speed will continue to increase as it homes in on its ultimate target: Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. MESSENGER's average speed will top out at a spacecraft record of close to 63 kilometers per second (141,000 miles per hour) in mid-October 2008. [more]

  • MESSENGER GEARING UP TO UNDERSTAND MERCURY'S MAGNETOSPHERE (March 19, 2007)
    Among the primary questions driving NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury are the nature and dynamics of the planet's small, Earth-like magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and Mercury's tenuous atmosphere. [more]

  • PRIMING INSTRUMENTS TO MAP MERCURY'S CRUST (February 20, 2007)
    Understanding if ice exists on the surface of Mercury, and if so what types, will mark an important component of the investigations by the MESSENGER spacecraft about the origin and evolution of the solar system's inner planets. [more]


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