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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • MESSENGER Team Releases First Global Map of Mercury (December 15, 2009)
    NASA’s MESSENGER mission team and cartographic experts from the U. S. Geological Survey have created a critical tool for planning the first orbital observations of the planet Mercury – a global mosaic of the planet that will help scientists pinpoint craters, faults, and other features for observation. The map was created from images taken during the MESSENGER spacecraft’s three flybys of the planet and those of Mariner 10 in the 1970s. A presentation on the new global mosaic is being given today at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. [more]

  • Deep-Space Maneuver Positions MESSENGER for Mercury Orbit Insertion (November 24, 2009)
    The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft completed its fifth and final deep-space maneuver of the mission today, providing the expected velocity change needed to place the spacecraft on course to enter into orbit about Mercury in March 2011. A 3.3-minute firing of its bi-propellant engine provided nearly all of the probe’s 177 meter per second (396 mile per hour) increase in its speed relative to the Sun. [more]

  • Time Magazine Names MESSENGER One of the Best Inventions of 2009 (November 17, 2009)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft has been named one of Time magazine’s best 50 inventions of 2009. The NASA probe, built by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., came in at number 11. [more]

  • MESSENGER SPACECRAFT REVEALS MORE HIDDEN TERRITORY ON MERCURY (November 3, 2009)
    WASHINGTON -- A NASA spacecraft's third and final flyby of the planet Mercury gives scientists, for the first time, an almost complete view of the planet's surface and provides new scientific findings about this relatively unknown planet. [more]

  • MESSENGER Gains Critical Gravity Assist for Mercury Orbital Observations (September 30, 2009)
    MESSENGER successfully flew by Mercury yesterday, gaining a critical gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011 and capturing images of five percent of the planet never before seen. With more than 90 percent of the planet’s surface already imaged, MESSENGER’s science team had drafted an ambitious observation campaign designed to tease out additional details from features uncovered during the first two flybys. But an unexpected signal loss prior to closest approach hampered those plans. [more]

  • MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury (September 29, 2009)
    Shortly before 5:55 p.m. EDT, MESSENGER skimmed 228 kilometers (141 miles) above the surface of Mercury in its third and final flyby of the planet. Radio signals received after the spacecraft emerged from behind the planet indicate that the spacecraft is operating nominally. Its instruments are now collecting images and other scientific measurements from the planet as it departs Mercury. [more]

  • Closest Approach Tomorrow! (September 28, 2009)
    MESSENGER’s engineering and operations teams convened at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., this morning to confirm the health and readiness of the spacecraft. “All spacecraft sub-systems and instruments reported nominal operations, indicating that MESSENGER was ready for its third encounter with Mercury,” said MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan of APL. [more]

  • MESSENGER on Mercury's Doorstep (September 26, 2009)
    MESSENGER is approximately two days from its third encounter with Mercury. If you look at our "Where Is MESSENGER?" page, which displays the spacecraft's trajectory status, you'll see that it is practically on Mercury's doorstep. This will be the team’s last opportunity to practice at Mercury before orbit insertion, so many of the instrument command sequences have been assembled to be similar to how they will operate during the orbital phase of the mission, which begins in March 2011. [more]

  • MESSENGER Prepares for Final Pass by Mercury (September 23, 2009)
    On September 29, 2009, the MESSENGER spacecraft will fly by Mercury for the third and final time, passing 141.7 miles above the planet’s rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011. With more than 90 percent of the planet’s surface already imaged, the team will turn its instruments during this flyby to specific features to uncover more information about the planet closest to the Sun. [more]

  • Experience MESSENGER's Third Mercury Flyby Virtually (September 22, 2009)
    See Mercury through the “eyes” of MESSENGER’s imagers with the Mercury Flyby Visualization Tool, now available at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/encountersm3/. This updated Web feature offers a unique opportunity to see simulated views of Mercury from MESSENGER’s perspective, during approach, flyby, and departure, or in real-time (as the observations actually occur). [more]

  • NASA TO PREVIEW MISSION'S THIRD FLIGHT PAST MERCURY (September 21, 2009)
    WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to preview MESSENGER's third and final flyby of Mercury. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Prepares for Third Flyby, Rehearses for Orbital Operations (September 16, 2009)
    In less than two weeks, on September 29, MESSENGER will fly by Mercury for the third and final time, a maneuver key to placing the probe on a trajectory that will enable its March 2011 insertion into orbit about Mercury. Even as the team readies for this critical event, a parallel effort has long been underway to prepare MESSENGER for the main event. [more]

  • Upcoming Mercury Encounter Presents New Opportunities for Magnetometer (August 20, 2009)
    On September 29, the MESSENGER spacecraft will pass by Mercury for the third time, flying 141.7 miles above the planet’s rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011. This encounter will also provide new observational opportunities for MESSENGER’s Magnetometer, designed to determine the structure and origin of Mercury's intrinsic magnetic field. [more]

  • MESSENGER Mission Passes Five-Year Mark (August 3, 2009)
    It’s been five years since MESSENGER was launched atop a Delta II rocket on August 3, 2004, and they have been busy years. It has been a long journey, says MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway, “not just in distance travelled – just over 3.5 billion miles so far – but also in terms of significant milestones and accomplishments.” [more]

  • Sixteen Craters on Mercury Have New Names (July 15, 2009)
    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to confer names on 16 impact craters on Mercury. The newly named craters were imaged during the mission’s first two flybys of Mercury in January and October last year. [more]

  • Three New Co-Investigators Added to MESSENGER Team (June 26, 2009)
    Brian Anderson, Louise Prockter, and Thomas Zurbuchen have been appointed MESSENGER Co-Investigators by NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Edward Weiler. [more]

  • MESSENGER Co-Investigator Peale Elected to National Academy of Sciences (May 5, 2009)
    MESSENGER Co-Investigator Stanton J. Peale, a professor emeritus renowned for his work in planetary science and astrophysics at University of California, Santa Barbara, was among the 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The election was held April 28 during the business session of the 146th annual meeting of the Academy. Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,150, now including four members of the MESSENGER Science Team. [more]

  • MESSENGER Reveals Mercury as a Dynamic Planet (April 30, 2009)
    Analyses of data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft’s second flyby of Mercury in October 2008 show that the planet’s atmosphere, magnetosphere, and geological past are all characterized by much greater levels of activity than scientists first suspected. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team to Receive National Space Club Award (April 17, 2009)
    The National Space Club will award the MESSENGER team its Nelson P. Jackson Aerospace Award this evening at the 52nd annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C. The award, named in honor of the National Space Club's founder and past president, is presented annually to recognize exceptional teamwork between government and industry in the missile, aircraft, and space fields. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Remembers Dr. Mario H. Acuña (March 20, 2009)
    Mario H. Acuña, a senior astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Co-Investigator on the MESSENGER mission, died on March 5, 2009, after a long battle against multiple myeloma. During his four decades at NASA, he played a critical role in many NASA endeavors, serving as principal investigator or key developer of experiments flown on more than 30 missions to every planet in the solar system, as well as the Sun. [more]

  • MESSENGER Continues Hunt for Ever-Elusive Vulcanoids (February 9, 2009)
    MESSENGER reaches its orbital perihelion today and passes within 0.31 astronomical units (AU) of the Sun (one AU is nearly 150 million kilometers or 93 million miles). The mission’s imaging team is taking advantage of the probe’s proximity to the fiery sphere to continue their search for vulcanoids – small, rocky asteroids that have been postulated to circle the Sun in stable orbits inside the orbit of Mercury. [more]



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