Latest Mercury spacecraft Stories

2011-06-16 09:42:30

The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its first orbit-correction maneuver on June 15 to reset its periapsis altitude "” the lowest point of MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury relative to the planet's surface "” from 506 kilometers to approximately 200 kilometers. MESSENGER was 198 million kilometers (123 million miles) from Earth when the maneuver began at 3:40 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in...

2011-06-14 13:28:18

On Sunday, the MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed the first of four "hot seasons" expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit about Mercury. During these hot seasons, the Sun-facing side of the probe's sunshade can reach temperatures as high as 350°C. These hot conditions are the result of two concurrent circumstances, says MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "Mercury is in...

2011-06-13 06:38:22

NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 16, to reveal new images and science findings from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The event will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium located at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. NASA Television and the agency's website will broadcast the event. NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER spacecraft conducted more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system for six years...

2011-06-08 13:28:33

Robert Strom Forty years ago, in 1971, I became a member of the Mariner 10 imaging science team. This Mercury flyby mission was intended to gather atmospheric data at Venus and geological and geophysical data at Mercury in preparation for a Mercury orbiter mission. At that time we knew almost nothing about the innermost planet, and the Mariner 10 flybys were intended to help in the selection of an instrument payload for an orbital mission. The Mariner 10 spacecraft flew by Venus once and...

2011-05-26 09:44:59

MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) in its first 2 months of operation has already built up a grid of ground tracks that span most of Mercury's surface north of the equator (Figure 1). These data will provide a very good measure of the shape of the planet's northern hemisphere. The shape of a planet carries a record of all of the interior dynamical and geological processes that have modified the surface. Signals from MLA's laser reflected from the surface can be recovered whenever the...

2011-05-09 08:21:14

On May 6th, MESSENGER began its 100th orbit around Mercury. Since its insertion into orbit about the innermost planet on March 17, the spacecraft has executed nearly 2 million commands. The data gathered so far include more than 70 million magnetic field measurements, 300,000 visible and infrared spectra of the surface, 16,000 images, and 12,000 X-ray and 9,000 gamma-ray spectra probing the elemental composition of Mercury's uppermost crust. "As the primary orbital phase of the MESSENGER...

2011-04-20 08:45:25

Mercury's Exosphere: A Brief Overview One of the primary science goals of MESSENGER is to study Mercury's very thin atmosphere, or exosphere. Although observations of the exosphere from orbit have begun, these data must be carefully calibrated, and analysis is still underway. In the meantime, here is a primer on Mercury's exosphere: what it is, how we observe it, and why it is important. What Is Mercury's Exosphere? Mercury's atmosphere is so tenuous that the atoms or molecules comprising it...

2011-04-05 08:16:35

On April 4th, MESSENGER began its yearlong science campaign to understand the innermost planet. The spacecraft will fly around Mercury 700 times over the next 12 months, and its instruments will perform the first complete reconnaissance of the cratered planet's geochemistry, geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment. "MESSENGER's orbital commissioning phase, which we just completed, demonstrated that the spacecraft and payload are all operating...

2011-03-31 05:00:00

NASA released the first batch of hundreds of photos taken by MESSENGER during its orbit of Mercury on Wednesday. The images show numerous battle scars on the planet, which scientists said are from space rocks regularly pelting Mercury at high speeds. MESSENGER's images have revealed a planet full of craters from pieces of asteroids and comets. Mission chief scientists Sean Solomon said scientists are surprised to see more secondary craters than expected. Scientists said that those craters...

2011-03-30 05:50:00

On Tuesday, NASA released the first image the MESSENGER spacecraft has taken during its close-up encounter of the planet Mercury. The first image taken by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft focuses on a 50-mile-wide crater called Debussy. MESSENGER has taken 363 more photographs of Mercury so far, some of which NASA will release on Wednesday. MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to visit the planet since the Mariner mission in 1974. ...

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
  • Like a worm in form or movement; vermiform; tortuous or sinuous; also, writhing or wriggling.
  • Like the track or trace of a worm; appearing as if worm-eaten; vermiculate.
  • Marked with fine, close-set, wavy or tortuous lines of color; vermiculated.
  • A form of rusticated masonry which is so wrought as to appear thickly indented with worm-tracks.
This word ultimately comes from the Latin 'vermis,' worm.