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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • A Christmas Crater on Mercury (December 22, 2011)
    The crater at the center of Wednesday's MESSENGER image of the day is named Dickens, after Charles Dickens, the English novelist who lived from 1812 to 1870. Among Dickens' most famous works is A Christmas Carol, the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his tortured journey to a more humanitarian and generous nature. [more]

  • MESSENGER Among Discover Magazine's Top 100 Stories of 2011 (December 16, 2011)
    Discover magazine has named the MESSENGER mission one of the top 100 stories of 2011. "The 100 stories here capture scientific curiosity in all its stages: provocative early results, long-sought confirmation, and many steps in the iterative process of testing theory against observation and vice versa," wrote Discover Editor-in-Chief Corey Powell in the Editor's Note for the January/February 2012 issue of the magazine. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Presents Latest Mercury Findings at AGU Fall Meeting (December 5, 2011)
    Members of the MESSENGER team will present a broad range of findings from the spacecraft's orbital investigation of Mercury during the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which takes place this week, December 5-9, in San Francisco. In 63 oral and poster presentations spanning 13 technical sessions, team scientists will report on the analysis and interpretation of observations made by MESSENGER's instruments since the spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury in March 2011. [more]

  • MESSENGER Recognized as "Best of What's New" by Popular Science (November 18, 2011)
    MESSENGER was named a winner in Popular Science magazine's 24th annual "Best of What's New" in the Aviation and Space category. [more]

  • NASA Extends MESSENGER Mission (November 14, 2011)
    NASA has announced that it will extend the MESSENGER mission for an additional year of orbital operations at Mercury beyond the planned end of the primary mission on March 17, 2012. The MESSENGER probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on March 18, 2011. [more]

  • MESSENGER Mission Design Lead Named American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow (November 3, 2011)
    MESSENGER mission design lead engineer James McAdams has been named an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). To be selected for the grade of Associate Fellow an individual must be an AIAA Senior Member with at least 12 years professional experience and have been recommended by at least three AIAA members who are already Associate Fellows or Fellows. [more]

  • Fourth Orbit Adjustment Stretches MESSENGER's Orbit around Mercury (October 24, 2011)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its fourth orbit-correction maneuver today to increase the period of the spacecraft's orbit around the innermost planet from 11 hours 46 minutes to a precise 12 hours. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Presents New Mercury Findings at Planetary Conference (October 5, 2011)
    Nantes, France—MESSENGER scientists will highlight the latest results on Mercury from MESSENGER observations obtained during the first six months (the first Mercury solar day) in orbit. These findings will be presented October 5 in 30 papers and posters as part of a special session of the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Nantes, Frances. [more]

  • Orbital Observations of Mercury Reveal Flood Lavas, Hollows, and Unprecedented Surface Details (September 29, 2011)
    After only six months in orbit around Mercury, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is sending back information that has revolutionized the way scientists think about the innermost planet. Analyses of new data from the spacecraft show, among other things, new evidence that flood volcanism has been widespread on Mercury, the first close-up views of Mercury's "hollows," the first direct measurements of the chemical composition of Mercury's surface, and the first global inventory of plasma ions within Mercury's space environment. [more]

  • MESSENGER Reveals New Details of Planet Mercury (September 27, 2011)
    NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 29, to discuss new data and images from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The new findings are reported in a series of seven papers published in a special section of Science magazine on September 30. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Delivers First Orbital Data to Planetary Data System (September 8, 2011)
    Data collected during MESSENGER’s first two months in orbit around Mercury have been released to the public by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA’s planetary mission data. Calibrated data from all seven of MESSENGER’s science instruments, plus radio science data from the spacecraft telecommunications system, are included in this release. [more]

  • MESSENGER Navigates Second Hot Season, Executes Third Orbit-Correction Maneuver (September 7, 2011)
    Today the MESSENGER spacecraft emerged unscathed from the second of four “hot seasons” expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit around Mercury. Hours later, mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed a maneuver to adjust the spacecraft’s trajectory. [more]

  • MESSENGER Co-Investigator Elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America (August 15, 2011)
    MESSENGER Co-Investigator Louise Prockter has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). Established in 1888, the GSA — comprised of about 25,000 members — seeks to foster the quest for understanding the Earth, planets, and life; catalyze new scientific ways of thinking about natural systems; and support the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and Earth stewardship. [more]

  • MESSENGER Marks Seventh Anniversary of Launch (August 3, 2011)
    Seven years ago, on August 3, 2004, MESSENGER left Earth aboard a three-stage Boeing Delta II rocket to begin a journey that would take it more than 15 laps through the solar system, through six planetary flybys, and ultimately into orbit around Mercury. The spacecraft has travelled 5.247 billion miles (8.445 billion kilometers) relative to the Sun, and the team is one-third of the way through the one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. [more]

  • MESSENGER Makes Another Successful Orbit Adjustment (July 27, 2011)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft continued to fine-tune its orbit around Mercury yesterday afternoon when mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed the second orbit-correction maneuver of the mission. [more]

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Honors MESSENGER Team Leaders (July 5, 2011)
    The Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has named MESSENGER team members Peter Bedini and Eric Finnegan as Engineering Manager of the Year and Engineer of the Year, respectively, for 2011. Bedini and Finnegan, both of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., will be honored at an awards dinner later this month. [more]

  • MESSENGER Science Team Member Receives NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal (June 22, 2011)
    MESSENGER Co-Investigator Scott Murchie, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., will be awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor that NASA bestows to an individual working outside the government. The award is granted only to individuals whose singular accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA mission. [more]

  • MESSENGER Data from Mercury Orbit Confirm Theories, Offer Surprises (June 16, 2011)
    After nearly three months in orbit about Mercury, MESSENGER’s payload is providing a wealth of new information about the planet closest to the Sun, as well as a few surprises. [more]

  • MESSENGER Adjusts Its Orbit around Mercury (June 15, 2011)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its first orbit-correction maneuver today to reset its periapsis altitude — the lowest point of MESSENGER’s orbit about Mercury relative to the planet’s surface — from 506 kilometers to approximately 200 kilometers. [more]

  • MESSENGER Endures Its First Hot Season (June 13, 2011)
    Yesterday the MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed the first of four “hot seasons” expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit about Mercury. During these hot seasons, the Sun-facing side of the probe’s sunshade can reach temperatures as high as 350°C. [more]

  • NASA Releasing New Spacecraft Orbital Views of Mercury (June 10, 2011)
    NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 16, 2011, to reveal new images and science findings from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The event will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium located at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. NASA Television and the agency's website will broadcast the event. [more]

  • 100 Orbits and Counting (May 6, 2011)
    Later today, MESSENGER will begin its 100th orbit around Mercury. Since its insertion into orbit about the innermost planet on March 17, the spacecraft has executed nearly 2 million commands. [more]

  • Measuring Mercury's Surface Composition (May 3, 2011)
    MESSENGER carries a Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) capable of measuring and characterizing gamma-ray emissions from the surface of Mercury. Gamma rays coming from Mercury carry information about the concentrations of elements present on its surface, and observations from the GRS are being used to determine the surface composition of the planet. Read more to see how these results will be applied to studying the formation and geologic history of Mercury. [more]

  • Profiling Polar Craters with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (April 26, 2011)
    MESSENGER’s Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) will measure the topography or surface relief of the northern hemisphere of Mercury. That data will be used to create topographic maps, which will help characterize the geologic history of the planet. One of the most important tasks for MLA is to measure the depths of craters that are near Mercury’s north pole. In the latest "Science Highlights from Mercury’s Orbit," MESSENGER’s Geophysics discipline group explains why. [more]

  • Mercury's Exosphere: A Brief Overview (April 19, 2011)
    One of the primary science goals of MESSENGER is to study Mercury’s very thin atmosphere, or exosphere. Although observations of the exosphere from orbit have begun, these data must be carefully calibrated, and analysis is still underway. In the meantime, go online to http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/soc/highlights.html for a primer on Mercury’s exosphere: what it is, how we observe it, and why it is important. [more]

  • MESSENGER Kicks Off Yearlong Campaign of Mercury Science (April 4, 2011)
    This afternoon, MESSENGER began its yearlong science campaign to understand the innermost planet. The spacecraft will fly around Mercury 700 times over the next 12 months, and its instruments will perform the first complete reconnaissance of the cratered planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment. [more]

  • MESSENGER Sends Back First Image of Mercury from Orbit (March 29, 2011)
    MESSENGER has delivered its first image since entering orbit about Mercury on March 17. It was taken today at 5:20 am EDT by the Mercury Dual Imaging System as the spacecraft sailed high above Mercury’s south pole, and provides a glimpse of portions of Mercury's surface not previously seen by spacecraft. The image was acquired as part of the orbital commissioning phase of the MESSENGER mission. Continuous global mapping of Mercury will begin on April 4. [more]

  • NASA to Release MESSENGER's First Orbital Images Of Mercury (March 28, 2011)
    NASA will release the first orbital image of Mercury's surface, including previously unseen terrain, on Tuesday afternoon, March 29. Several other images will be available Wednesday, March 30, in conjunction with a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT to discuss these initial orbital images taken from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. [more]

  • Spacecraft Data Confirm MESSENGER Orbit and Operation (March 21, 2011)
    Data from its first three days in orbit about Mercury have confirmed the initial assessment of the spacecraft team that MESSENGER is in its intended orbit and operating nominally. [more]

  • MESSENGER Begins Historic Orbit around Mercury (March 17, 2011)
    At 9:10 p.m. EDT, engineers in the MESSENGER Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., received the anticipated radiometric signals confirming nominal burn shutdown and successful insertion of the MESSENGER probe into orbit around the planet Mercury. [more]

  • MESSENGER On Autopilot for Orbit Insertion (March 16, 2011)
    MESSENGER is now on autopilot, faithfully executing a detailed set of instructions required to achieve its historic rendezvous with Mercury tomorrow night. [more]

  • MESSENGER Primed for Mercury Orbit (March 15, 2011)
    After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system and six planetary flybys, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury at around 9 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet. [more]

  • NASA Media Telecon Previews First Spacecraft to Orbit Mercury (March 10, 2011)
    NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 15, to discuss the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. [more]

  • Ten Days from Mercury Orbit Insertion (March 7, 2011)
    Ten days from now – on March 17 EDT – the MESSENGER spacecraft will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place it into orbit about Mercury, making it the first craft ever to do so, and initiating a one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. [more]

  • A Solar System Family Portrait, from the Inside Out (February 18, 2011)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft has captured the first portrait of our Solar System from the inside looking out. Comprised of 34 images, the mosaic provides a complement to the Solar System portrait — that one from the outside looking in — taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. [more]

  • One Month Until Mercury Orbit Insertion (February 17, 2011)
    After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet. [more]



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