Latest Mercury spacecraft Stories

2008-10-04 16:15:00

If you look at our "Where Is MESSENGER?" page, which displays the spacecraft's trajectory status, you'll see that we're right on Mercury's doorstep. MESSENGER's mission design and navigation teams met today at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to discuss the spacecraft's current trajectory to determine if a last-minute trajectory-correction maneuver would be needed. "Early this morning, the navigation team delivered the final ephemeris update for...

2008-10-03 10:45:00

MESSENGER mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., have received the first optical navigation images from the spacecraft. "We will be taking seven additional sets over the next three days as the spacecraft approaches the planet," said APL's Eric Finnegan, the Mission Systems Engineer. Optical navigation is commonly used to tie the position of a spacecraft to the position of a target body to ensure a safe and well-positioned flyby,...

2008-10-02 07:05:00

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which is toting an $8.7 million University of Colorado at Boulder instrument to measure Mercury's wispy atmosphere and blistering surface, will make its second flyby of the mysterious, rocky planet Oct. 6. Traveling at a mind-blowing 4.2 miles per second, the spacecraft will dip within 124 miles of Mercury and image much of the surface never before seen by spacecraft. As MESSENGER pulls away from the planet it will view a region seen at high resolution only once...

2008-09-12 15:35:00

It is now only slightly more than three weeks before the MESSENGER spacecraft flies by Mercury for the second time. At 4:40 a.m. ET on October 6, the craft will speed by the planet, passing within 125 miles (200 kilometers) and gaining a gravity assist that will tighten its orbit and keep it on its course to pass the planet one last time next year before becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury, beginning in 2011. A comprehensive set of observations of Mercury and its environment...

2008-09-08 09:30:00

On September 4, the MESSENGER team announced that it would not need to implement a scheduled maneuver to adjust the probe's trajectory. This is the fourth time this year that such a maneuver has been called off. The reason? A recently implemented navigational technique that makes use of solar-radiation pressure (SRP) to guide the probe has been extremely successful at maintaining MESSENGER on a trajectory that will carry it over the cratered surface of Mercury for a second time on October 6....

2008-07-03 15:45:00

Scientists have argued about the origins of Mercury's smooth plains and the source of its magnetic field for more than 30 years. Now, analyses of data from the January 2008 flyby of the planet by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft have shown that volcanoes were involved in plains formation and suggest that its magnetic field is actively produced in the planet's core. Scientists additionally took their first look at the chemical composition...

2008-05-07 11:36:36

New scientific evidence suggests that deep inside the planet Mercury, iron "snow" forms and falls toward the center of the planet, much like snowflakes form in Earth's atmosphere and fall to the ground.The movement of this iron snow could be responsible for Mercury's mysterious magnetic field, say researchers from the University of Illinois and Case Western Reserve University. In a paper published in the April issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists describe...

2008-04-28 09:50:00

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has approved new names for features on Mercury and agreed on a new theme for fossae on the planet. These newly christened features were discovered from images taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft during its first flyby of Mercury in January.The IAU is the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to surface features on celestial bodies. "We are very pleased with how quickly the IAU has responded to the need to name many of the...

2008-03-19 17:50:00

The MESSENGER spacecraft delivered a critical deep-space maneuver today "“ 64 million miles (103 million kilometers) from Earth "“ successfully firing its large bi-propellant engine to change the probe's trajectory and target it for its second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008. This was the first trajectory-correction maneuver (TCM) to test the continuous slow rotation of the spacecraft throughout the burn, essential for the March 18, 2011, Mercury orbit-insertion (MOI)...

2008-02-07 11:13:34

Little more than three weeks after MESSENGER's first historic flyby of Mercury, the team this week began mapping out its trajectory and observation plans for the probe's second pass of the planet this fall. On October 6, 2008, at 4:39 a.m. EST, the spacecraft will once again fly 200 kilometers (124 miles) above the surface of the planet. This is the second of three scheduled passes of Mercury, each designed to provide a critical gravity assist needed to keep MESSENGER on track for its March...

Latest Mercury spacecraft Reference Libraries

2004-10-19 04:45:40

The Planet Mercury -- in astronomy, nearest planet to the sun, at a mean distance of 36 million mi (58 million km); its period of revolution is 88 days. Mercury passes through phases similar to those of the moon as it completes each revolution about the sun, although the visible disk varies in size with respect to its distance from the earth. Because its greatest elongation is 28, it is seen only for a short time after sunset or before sunrise. Since observation of Mercury is...

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Word of the Day
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'