A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study
of the innermost planet
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MESSENGER Teleconference Multimedia Page

Presenter #1
Andrew B. Calloway, MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Video 1.1

This animation follows MESSENGER’s journey from launch on August 3, 2004, through flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury, to arrival at Mercury for orbit insertion on March 18, 2011 (UTC).  The relative motions of Earth, Venus, Mercury, and the MESSENGER spacecraft, which completed nearly 16 orbits around the Sun, are shown in the plane of Earth’s orbit.  The timeline at the bottom tracks the spacecraft’s progress from launch to Mercury orbit insertion.

Click on image to watch video.

Image 1.1

High-level summary of the timeline leading up to and following Mercury orbit insertion. Additional details can be found on the MESSENGER website.

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Presenter #2
Carl S. Engelbrecht, MESSENGER Propulsion Subsystem Lead
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Image 2.1

MESSENGER's propulsion system, built by Aerojet in Sacramento, California, is innovative in its degree of integration with the compact spacecraft, a design that allowed a high fraction (~55%) of the spacecraft mass at launch to be propellant.  That propellant budget has been critical to the execution of MESSENGER's several major maneuvers, including orbit insertion.

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Image 2.2

The MOI maneuver is the largest planned for the MESSENGER propulsion system. This chart compares MOI to the other major deep-space maneuvers (DSMs) and smaller trajectory-correction maneuvers (TCMs) of the mission.

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Presenter #3
Sean Solomon, MESSENGER Principal Investigator
Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington

Image 3.1

As the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, MESSENGER has a comprehensive list of measurements planned for its one year of orbital observations.

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Image 3.2

There are a variety of scientific and spacecraft operational constraints that must be met if the scientific objectives are to be achieved and the spacecraft is to remain healthy. The MESSENGER team solved this optimization problem with an automated scientific planning software package called SciBox, with which a year-long observational campaign that meets all mission science objectives and satisfies all operational constraints was designed and tested.

Click on image to enlarge.

Video 3.1

Video image 4.1

This animation depicts some of the science operations that will be completed during a typical single
orbit in the first week of scientific mapping. At different parts of the orbit, different instruments control spacecraft pointing. Blue frames on the planet denote imaging with either MESSENGER's wide-angle or narrow-angle camera. The green line denotes an observation of Mercury's exosphere with MESSENGER's Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer. The red circles denote topographic profiling with the Mercury Laser Altimeter. The magenta scans denote remote sensing of surface elemental composition by MESSENGER's X-Ray Spectrometer and Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer. Time during the animation is unevenly scaled to time in orbit to permit several of the principal scientific operations to be displayed clearly.

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