A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study
of the innermost planet
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MESSENGER Mission News
May 3, 2011
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

Measuring Mercury's Surface Composition
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.

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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