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MESSENGER Mission News
April 5, 2012

MESSENGER Images Debut on "The Big Bang Theory"
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.

Much of the show focuses on science, particularly physics. The characters frequently banter about scientific theories or news and make science-related jokes.

"The MESSENGER team is thrilled by the decision of the producers and writers of 'The Big Bang Theory' to weave some of the spacecraft's latest images of Mercury into this week's episode," says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "We look forward to seeing how the images figure in the story line and camera shots, and we hope that interest in the MESSENGER mission is broadened by this exposure on one of the most popular series now on television."

MESSENGER's images will appear in an episode entitled, The Hawking Excitation. When Wolowitz gets to work with Stephen Hawking, Sheldon is willing to do anything to meet his hero. The show airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. EDT on CBS!

Engineer Keeps MESSENGER Software Grounded in Quality

Eric Melin's interest in engineering and science was sparked by his father and mother, who worked as a chemical engineer and a chemist, respectively. But it was the technological leap in computer processing in the early 1990s that propelled him into the field of software development. As MESSENGER's lead ground software engineer, Melin overseas the spacecraft's command and telemetry. Read more about his critical role on the mission here.

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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