Date: April 30, 2009 at 2 p.m. EST
NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) is the first mission sent to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. It will use Mercury's gravity for a critical assist needed to keep the spacecraft on track for its orbit insertion around the planet less than two years from now. During its second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008, MESSENGER's cameras captured more than 1,200 high-resolution and color images of the planet - unveiling another 30 percent of Mercury's surface that had never before been seen by spacecraft and gathering essential data for planning the overall mission. In a set of four papers published in Science magazine on May 1, 2009 MESSENGER team members detail additional findings about the planet's magnetosphere and exosphere, and its geological history. MESSENGER was launched on August 3, 2004. After one last pass at Mercury on September 29, 2009, the spacecraft will start a year-long orbital study of Mercury in March 2011.
- Marilyn Lindstrom, MESSENGER Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- William McClintock, MESSENGER Co-Investigator, University of Colorado, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, Colo.
- James Slavin, MESSENGER Co-Investigator and Chief, Laboratory for Solar and Space Physics, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Thomas Watters, MESSENGER Participating Scientist, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
- Brett Denevi, MESSENGER Imaging Team member and Postdoctoral Researcher, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone: (240) 228 - 6792
Phone: (202) 358 -1726
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Phone: (202) 939 -1120
The NASA MESSENGER Media teleconference will take place on Thursday, April 30, 2009, at 1 p.m. EST. To participate in the teleconference, reporters in the United States should call 1-888-398-6118 and use the pass code "Mercury." International reporters should call 1-210-234-0013. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio.