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MESSENGER Mission News
January 4, 2013

MESSENGER's Discoveries Tapped as among Top Space Stories of 2012
In 2012, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury completed its primary mission, embarked on an extended mission, saw its images and maps featured on a highly rated television show, sponsored the release of a dedicated app, and celebrated the 8th anniversary of its launch, all the while continuing to produce new findings about the planet closest to the Sun.

These accomplishments captured the attention of many media outlets, several of which designated MESSENGER's endeavors as a "top story" of 2012.

"In late November, scientists discovered water on a planet beginning with the letter M — just not the one we were expecting," wrote Eric Olson of Scientific American, which listed MESSENGER as one of the top 5 space stories of 2012. "As the data keeps pouring in we can probably expect more news on Mercury in 2013," he predicted.

MESSENGER's confirmation of ice at Mercury's poles also prompted editors at The Huffington Post to include the mission in its Year in Science: Inspiring Discoveries & Important Events.

The International Business Times — referring to the spacecraft as "plucky" — deemed MESSENGER's confirmation of ice on Mercury one of the biggest space stories of 2012.
NASA SpaceFlight.com offered a yearlong review of MESSENGER's accomplishments, declaring that it "offered one of the most exciting missions of the 2012 year."

"We learned a great deal about Mercury over the past year," adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "The team published three dozen scientific and technical papers and delivered more than 150 presentations at national and international meetings. New measurements continue to stream back from our spacecraft, and we can look forward with excitement to many additional discoveries in 2013."

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. MESSENGER's extended mission began on March 18, 2012. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, the director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 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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