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MESSENGER News Archive

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  • Recently Named Mercury Craters Honor Blues Singer and Animation Pioneer (December 21, 2012)
    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. [more]

  • MESSENGER Finds New Evidence for Water Ice at Mercury's Poles (November 29, 2012)
    New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters. [more]

  • NASA Hosts Nov. 29 News Conference about Mercury Polar Regions (November 26, 2012)
    WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov, 29, to reveal new observations from the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington. [more]

  • MESSENGER Finds Unusual Groups of Ridges and Troughs on Mercury (November 15, 2012)
    MESSENGER has discovered assemblages of tectonic landforms unlike any previously found on Mercury or elsewhere in the Solar System. The findings are reported in a paper led by Smithsonian scientist Thomas Watters, "Extension and contraction within volcanically buried impact craters and basins on Mercury," published in the December issue of the journal Geology. [more]

  • MESSENGER Mission Receives the IAA Laurels for Team Achievement Award (October 4, 2012)
    The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) has awarded the 2012 Laurels for Team Achievement Award to the MESSENGER team. The award was presented September 30 at the opening ceremony of the 63rd International Astronautical Congress, which is being held this week in Naples. [more]

  • MESSENGER's X-Ray Spectrometer Reveals Chemical Diversity on Mercury's Surface (September 21, 2012)
    New data from the X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) on the MESSENGER spacecraft -- one of two instruments designed to measure the abundances of many key elements on Mercury -- show variations in the composition of surface material on Mercury that point to changes over time in the characteristics of volcanic eruptions on the solar system's innermost planet. [more]

  • MESSENGER Data from Second Full Mercury Solar Day in Orbit Released by Planetary Data System (September 11, 2012)
    Late last week, the Planetary Data System (PDS) released data collected during MESSENGER's seventh through twelfth month in orbit around Mercury. PDS archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the second full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Mourns the Loss of Neil Armstrong (August 27, 2012)
    The news of Neil Armstrong's death this weekend left many members of the MESSENGER team mourning his loss and reflecting on his legacy. Armstrong died on August 25, at the age of 82. He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969; and an estimated 600 million people witnessed, by television or radio, as he became the first man to set foot on its surface. [more]

  • International Astronomical Union Approves Names for Nine Mercury Craters (August 9, 2012)
    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities. [more]

  • MESSENGER Marks 8th Anniversary of Launch (August 3, 2012)
    The MESSENGER spacecraft launched eight years ago today — on August 3, 2004 — embarking on a six-and-a-half year journey to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The spacecraft's 4.9-billion mile (7.9-billion kilometer) cruise to history included 15 trips around the Sun, a flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury. [more]

  • MESSENGER Completes Its 1,000th Orbit of Mercury (June 22, 2012)
    MESSENGER will complete its 1,000th orbit of the planet closest to the Sun at 11:22 p.m. EDT tonight. "Reaching this milestone is yet another testimony to the hard work and dedication of the full MESSENGER team that has designed, launched, and operated this highly successful spacecraft," says the mission trajectory lead Jim McAdams of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. [more]

  • MESSENGER Measures Waves at the Boundary of Mercury's Magnetosphere (May 22, 2012)
    MESSENGER scientists have concluded that waves driven by the Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability play a key role in driving Mercury's magnetosphere. In a paper published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research, the team reports on frequent detections of such waves at the outer edge of the innermost planet's magnetosphere. [more]

  • MESSENGER Gains Deputy Principal Investigator (May 8, 2012)
    Vancouver, B.C. -- Larry Nittler, a staff scientist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has been named deputy principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission. MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of CIW, delivered the announcement this morning at the first plenary of the 26th meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team meeting in Vancouver, B.C. [more]

  • MESSENGER's Cameras Capture 100,000th Image from Mercury Orbit (May 3, 2012)
    This week, MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System delivered the 100,000th image of Mercury since the spacecraft entered into orbit around the planet on March 18, 2011. The instrument — one of seven aboard the spacecraft — has globally mapped the planet in high-resolution monochrome images and in color images through eight of its color filters, uncovering a new view of Mercury and shedding light on the planet's geologic history. [more]

  • Dr. Seuss, Alvin Ailey among the Names Selected for 23 Mercury Craters (April 26, 2012)
    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign 23 new names to impact craters on Mercury. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors. [more]

  • MESSENGER Settles into Eight-Hour Orbit Around Mercury, Poised for New Discoveries (April 20, 2012)
    MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted the second of two maneuvers required to reduce the spacecraft's orbital period about Mercury. The first maneuver, completed on Monday, shortened the orbital period from 11.6 to 9.1 hours and consumed the remaining oxidizer, one of two propellants that fuel the higher-efficiency large thruster. With today's maneuver, accomplished with the spacecraft's four medium-sized thrusters, MESSENGER is now in the 8-hour orbit from which it will operate for the next year. [more]

  • MESSENGER Adjusts Orbit for a Closer Look at Mercury (April 16, 2012)
    The MESSENGER mission successfully completed the first of two maneuvers designed to reduce the spacecraft's orbital period about Mercury. This new trajectory will pave the way for more detailed measurements and targeted observations of the Sun's closest neighbor. [more]

  • MESSENGER Images Debut on "The Big Bang Theory" (April 5, 2012)
    Tonight, images from MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System will make their debut on the CBS sitcom, "The Big Bang Theory." The award-winning comedy centers on five characters: roommates Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter, two physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology; and Sheldon's and Leonard's equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers, aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali; and Penny, a blonde waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall. [more]

  • MESSENGER App Now Available (March 23, 2012)
    The MESSENGER team has launched a free app that brings you inside NASA's history-making study of Mercury - the first images of the entire planet, along with the detailed data on Mercury's surface, geologic history, thin atmosphere, and active magnetosphere that MESSENGER sends back every day. [more]

  • MESSENGER Provides New Look at Mercury's Landscape, Metallic Core, and Polar Shadows (March 21, 2012)
    MESSENGER completed its one-year primary mission on March 17. Since moving into orbit about Mercury a little over one year ago, the spacecraft has captured nearly 100,000 images and returned data that have revealed new information about the planet, including its topography, the structure of its core, and areas of permanent shadow at the poles that host the mysterious polar deposits. [more]

  • MESSENGER Completes Primary Mission at Mercury, Settles in for Another Year (March 19, 2012)
    On March 17, 2012, MESSENGER successfully wrapped up a year-long campaign to perform the first complete reconnaissance of the geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment of the solar system's innermost planet. The following day, March 18, 2012, marked the official start of an extended phase designed to build upon those discoveries. [more]

  • MESSENGER Team Delivers Data from First Full Mercury Solar Day to Planetary Data System (March 8, 2012)
    Data collected during MESSENGER's third through sixth month in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, data are now available to the public for the first full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations. [more]

  • MESSENGER Modifies Orbit to Prepare for Extended Mission (March 2, 2012)
    MESSENGER successfully completed an orbit-correction maneuver this evening to lower its periapsis altitude - the lowest point of MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury relative to the planet's surface - from 405 to 200 kilometers (251 to 124 miles). This is the first of three planned maneuvers designed to modify the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury as science operations transition from MESSENGER's primary orbital mission to its extended mission. [more]

  • Software Enables Efficient Planning of MESSENGER Observations (February 3, 2012)
    SciBox, a scientific planning software package, has proven critical to the success of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. With completion of the design of all primary-mission observations -- including more than 70,000 images and millions of spectral observations -- the SciBox software tool has substantially increased, relative to original expectations, the scientific return from the first year of Mercury orbital observations. The spacecraft team is now adapting the system to develop the best plan for MESSENGER's extended mission, which begins next month. [more]



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