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MESSENGER Mission News
November 3, 2011

MESSENGER Mission Design Lead Named American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow
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.

The 2012 Associate Fellows will be honored at the AIAA Associate Fellows Dinner on Monday, January 9, 2012, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Nashville, Tennessee, in conjunction with the 50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting.

McAdams optimized the trajectory and course-correction maneuvers for MESSENGER, which required six gravity-assist flybys—one of Earth, two of Venus, and three of Mercury—and five large course-correction maneuvers. These flybys and maneuvers slowed the spacecraft's speed relative to Mercury so as to enable its thrusters to place the probe into orbit around Mercury early on March 18, 2011. Since entering orbit around Mercury, MESSENGER successfully completed four of the five planned orbit-adjustment maneuvers.

To learn more about his critical role on the MESSENGER team, read a profile at http://www.jhuapl.edu/messenger/who_we_are/member_focus_061608.html.

Mercury's Sleepy Hollows

Earlier this fall, MESSENGER scientists announced the discovery of mysterious "hollows" found on Mercury's surface. Many of these depressions have bright interiors and halos and a fresh appearance and have not accumulated small impact craters, indicating that they are relatively young. To hear more about these landforms, listen to David Blewett, a staff scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., in his 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast interview, then head over to YouTube for ScienceAtNASA's ScienceCast on the topic.

Software Designer's Work Critical to MESSENGER Mission's Continued Success

The early work that software engineer Annette Mirantes and the MESSENGER flight software development team completed during MESSENGER's pre-launch phase has been key to the continued success of the mission. It's one thing to handle a computer error or bug when it occurs on a desktop, she says, but it's another situation altogether when the anomaly occurs onboard a spacecraft millions of miles from Earth. Read more about Mirantes in the latest team member highlight, available at http://messenger/who_we_are/member_focus.html.

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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