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  MESSENGER at Mercury: Questions, comments

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Author Topic:   MESSENGER at Mercury: Questions, comments
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 32246
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-13-2004 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
MESSENGER at Mercury: mission viewing and comments
This thread is intended for comments and questions regarding the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission and the updates published under the topic: NASA's MESSENGER to planet Mercury.

MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft to set sights on Mercury. Mariner 10 sailed past it three times in 1974 and 1975 and gathered detailed data on less than half the surface.

Carrying seven scientific instruments on its compact and durable composite frame, MESSENGER will provide the first images of the entire planet. The mission will also collect detailed information on the composition and structure of Mercury's crust, its geologic history, the nature of its thin atmosphere and active magnetosphere, and the makeup of its core and polar materials.

MESSENGER's science team will shape its investigation around several questions, including: Why is Mercury — the densest planet in the solar system — mostly made of iron? Why is it the only inner planet besides Earth with a global magnetic field? How can the planet closest to the sun, with daytime temperatures near 450 degrees Celsius (840 F), have what appears to be ice in its polar craters?

Glint
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Posts: 849
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 02-13-2004 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Project Scientist used to be my office mate.

I've also been a long time fan of the Mission Manager. He was responsible for cooking up the first mission to a comet (Giacobini-Zinner). He recycled a spacecraft and cranked it up to speed by repeated flybys of the earth and the moon.

My hero, Dr. Robert W. Farquhar.

He gave a talk at a public lecture I arranged a few years ago. His one demand was that he pick the restaurant for the dinner before the talk.

I've been trying to get him back out again but the restaurant has since burned down and so now there is no longer any leverage.

DavidH
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Posts: 1213
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 08-31-2005 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This video from MESSENGER's flyby earlier this month is incredible.
The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth.

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth - farther than the Moon's orbit - when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 32246
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-18-2008 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Baltimore Sun: Mercury, twice in a lifetime
Bob Strom had begun to lose hope.

A veteran of NASA's Mariner 10 mission to Mercury in the 1970s, he was bursting with questions that the Mariner flybys had raised about the little planet but couldn't answer.

"I've been hoping for another Mercury mission for 30 years, practically," said Strom, an expert on impact craters. But for decades, NASA seemed unable to make it happen.

"I really thought... I'd never live to see Mercury again," he said.

But he did.

This week, NASA's Messenger spacecraft whizzed past Mercury and sent back more than 1,200 photos and measurements from the sun's nearest neighbor, and Strom was in the thick of it.

At 74, he is the only member of the old Mariner 10 team serving on the Messenger science team. He has been holed up in the mission's Science Operations Center, at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab near Laurel, marveling over the new data from Mercury.

Philip
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From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 10-02-2008 04:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the die hard unmanned spaceflight fans: Mercury Flyby Dynamic Visualization
This tool shows simulated views of selected observations planned for MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008.

GoesTo11
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Posts: 1203
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-17-2011 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OUTSTANDING! Congratulations to everyone on the MESSENGER team.

Given all the variables, all the calculations, and all the thousands of little things that have to work for an interplanetary mission to reach its objective...their successes never cease to amaze me.

Kite
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Posts: 398
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-18-2011 12:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could not agree more. Outstanding it certainly is.

fredtrav
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Posts: 1223
From: Birmingham AL
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 03-18-2011 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree. One additional thought, it is even more amazing considering the technology is seven to eight years old. It is a great achievement. Congratulations to NASA and all the people who worked on this project.

DChudwin
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Posts: 1045
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-22-2011 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can view MESSENGER's real-time orbital position around Mercury here at the mission website.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2371
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 09-01-2011 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it just me, or does anyone else think the focus of the Messenger close-up images of Mercury is a little "soft"? The pictures, although spectacular, don't seem to me to have the same pin-sharp focus as images from some other planetary probes.

music_space
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From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 11-15-2011 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the objectives tabled for the one-year extension:
What is the origin of localized regions of enhanced exospheric density at Mercury?
Do I understand that this is another way of mentioning mascons? If not, what is it?

fredtrav
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Posts: 1223
From: Birmingham AL
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 11-29-2012 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Heard a very brief blurb on NPR that Messenger has found water ice at the poles on Mercury. Apparently at the bottom of craters. Could have come from the interior but more likely from asteroids or comets.

Editor's note: For the NASA press release and video of the news briefing, click here.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 04-30-2015 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been following Messenger since the first of its Mercury flybys and have checked the Messenger website every day since it achieved orbit. The mission was well-planned and executed. It will take years to digest the results and we will have some answers and, I am certain, more questions by the time Bepi-Columbo reaches Mercury in 2024 (if all goes well).

I found it ironic that the week we saw the demise of our spacecraft circling the inner-most planet, our spacecraft at the far end of the solar system sent back its first images showing detail on Pluto. From one extreme to the other.

To the Messenger Team ... Well Done!

AstronautBrian
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From: Madisonville, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 04-30-2015 09:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did MESSENGER transmit images until impact, like the old Ranger lunar missions, or was it not designed to do that?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 32246
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-30-2015 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
MESSENGER did not continue broadcasting until the end.
MESSENGER's last orbit with real-time flight operations began at 11:15 a.m. EDT, with initiation of the final delivery of data and images from Mercury via the DSN 70-m antenna in Madrid, Spain. See the last image delivered here.

After a planned transition to the 34-m DSS-15 antenna at Goldstone, California, at 2:40 p.m. EDT, mission operators later confirmed the switch to a beacon-only communication signal at 3:04 p.m.

"We then monitored MESSENGER's beacon signal for about 25 additional minutes," said Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway of APL. "It was strange to think that for those last three minutes MESSENGER had already impacted onto Mercury, but we could not confirm that fact yet because of the vast distance across space between Mercury and Earth. MESSENGER passed behind Mercury (as viewed from Earth) at 3:29 p.m., however the signal from our intrepid spacecraft started fading prior to that and dropped out for the last time at 3:25 p.m."

At 3:38 p.m. EDT, at the time the spacecraft would have emerged from behind the planet as viewed from the Goldstone station had MESSENGER not impacted, mission operators began monitoring for a signal, but as expected they were unable to establish communications between MESSENGER and the DSN. This radio silence was the confirmation of the end of the MESSENGER mission.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2371
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 05-03-2015 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well done to all involved in "Messenger." A magnificent achievement.

If Europe's forthcoming BepiColombo Mercury orbiter can achieve broadly comparable image resolution, we should one day get to see Messenger's impact crater.

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