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MESSENGER Mission News
April 19, 2011
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

Mercury's Exosphere: A Brief Overview
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.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and entered orbit about Mercury on March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011 UTC), to begin a yearlong study of its target planet. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

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