Author Topic: NASA- MESSENGER updates  (Read 121946 times)

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #360 on: 04/14/2015 05:23 PM »
Sky and Telescope recently web-published a very good article about recent MESSENGER investigations and end-of-mission.  It followed a press briefing on March 16.
Messenger Reveals Mercury Mysteries
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/messenger-mercury-mysteries-03172015/

(S&T is still one of my primary sources of astronomical information and updates.  Years ago, I used to read both it and Astronomy magazine every month as soon as they were delivered.)
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Offline jacqmans

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #361 on: 04/16/2015 08:17 PM »

April 16, 2015


NASA Spacecraft Achieves Unprecedented Success Studying Mercury

After extraordinary science findings and technological innovations, a NASA spacecraft launched in 2004 to study Mercury will impact the planet’s surface, most likely on April 30, after it runs out of propellant.

NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft will impact the planet at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second) on the side of the planet facing away from Earth. Due to the expected location, engineers will be unable to view in real time the exact location of impact.

On Tuesday, mission operators in mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, completed the fourth in a series of orbit correction maneuvers designed to delay the spacecraft’s impact into the surface of Mercury. The last maneuver is scheduled for Friday, April 24.

"Following this last maneuver, we will finally declare the spacecraft out of propellant, as this maneuver will deplete nearly all of our remaining helium gas,” said Daniel O’Shaughnessy, mission systems engineer at APL. “At that point, the spacecraft will no longer be capable of fighting the downward push of the sun's gravity.”

Although Mercury is one of Earth’s nearest planetary neighbors, little was known about the planet prior to the MESSENGER mission.

“For the first time in history we now have real knowledge about the planet Mercury that shows it to be a fascinating world as part of our diverse solar system,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While spacecraft operations will end, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission. It’s the beginning of a longer journey to analyze the data that reveals all the scientific mysteries of Mercury.”

The spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011. The prime mission was to orbit the planet and collect data for one Earth year. The spacecraft’s healthy instruments, remaining fuel, and new questions raised by early findings resulted in two approved operations extensions, allowing the mission to continue for almost four years and resulting in more scientific firsts.

One key science finding in 2012 provided compelling support for the hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant frozen water and other volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

Data indicated the ice in Mercury's polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, would be more than two miles thick. For the first time, scientists began seeing clearly a chapter in the story of how the inner planets, including Earth, acquired water and some of the chemical building blocks for life.

A dark layer covering most of the water ice deposits supports the theory that organic compounds,  as well as water, were delivered from the outer solar system to the inner planets and may have led to prebiotic chemical synthesis and, thusly, life on Earth.

“The water now stored in ice deposits in the permanently shadowed floors of impact craters at Mercury’s poles most likely was delivered to the innermost planet by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids,” said Sean Solomon, the mission’s principal investigator, and director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. “Those same impacts also likely delivered the dark organic material.”

In addition to science discoveries, the mission provided many technological firsts, including the development of a vital heat-resistant and highly reflective ceramic cloth sunshade that isolated the spacecraft’s instruments and electronics from direct solar radiation – vital to mission success given Mercury’s proximity to the sun. The technology will help inform future designs for planetary missions within our solar system.

“The front side of the sunshade routinely experienced temperatures in excess of 300° Celsius (570° Fahrenheit), whereas the majority of components in its shadow routinely operated near room temperature (20°C or 68°F),” said Helene Winters, mission project manager at APL. “This technology to protect the spacecraft’s instruments was a key to mission success during its prime and extended operations.”

The spacecraft was designed and built by APL. The lab manages and operates the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed for the directorate by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For a complete listing of science findings and technological achievements of the mission visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

Offline catdlr

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #362 on: 04/16/2015 08:22 PM »
NASA Celebrates MESSENGER Mission Prior to Surface Impact on Planet Mercury

Published on Apr 16, 2015
NASA held a panel discussion media on Thursday, April 16, to share scientific findings and technical accomplishments of the agency’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft.

After more than 10 years in space, the highly successful mission will come to an end when it is expected to collide into planet Mercury at a speed of more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 km/sec) near the end of this month.

Launched in August 2004, MESSENGER traveled 4.9 billion miles (7.9 billion kilometers) - a journey that included 15 trips around the sun and flybys of Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times - before it was inserted into orbit around its target planet in March 2011. The spacecraft's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology instruments have collected unprecedented images and made other observations. Mission managers are preparing to impact Mercury’ surface in the next couple weeks.

Participants featured were:

· James Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington
· Sean Solomon, MESSENGER principal investigator; director, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York
· Helene Winters, MESSENGER project manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland
· Daniel O’Shaughnessy, MESSENGER systems engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

Tony De La Rosa

Offline catdlr

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #363 on: 04/19/2015 04:32 AM »
Before Messenger crashes on Mercury, NASA bids spacecraft farewell

By: By AMINA KHAN LA Times

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-messenger-mercury-nasa-spacecraft-crash-20150416-story.html

Quote
The most important of the discoveries, ....: that Mercury was surprisingly high in volatile elements, including potassium, sulfur, sodium and chlorine. Scientists had not expected this planet to be so high in these elements, which are thought to be among the first to escape a planet, particularly when it's so close to the sun.
« Last Edit: 04/19/2015 04:32 AM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline robertross

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #364 on: 04/30/2015 04:57 PM »
Overview of MESSENGER Spacecraft's Impact Region on Mercury

On April 30th, this region of Mercury's surface will have a new crater! Traveling at 3.91 kilometers per second (over 8,700 miles per hour), the MESSENGER spacecraft will collide with Mercury's surface, creating a crater estimated to be 16 meters (52 feet) in diameter.

The large, 400-kilometer-diameter (250-mile-diameter), impact basin "Shakespeare" occupies the bottom left quarter of this image, acquired by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instruments aboard the spacecraft. The image is coded by topography. The tallest regions are colored red and are roughly 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) higher than low-lying areas such as the floors of impact craters, colored blue. The large crater on the left side of the image is "Janacek," with a diameter of 48 kilometers (30 miles). The Shakespeare impact basin is filled with smooth plains material, likely due to extensive lava flooding in the past. As of 24 hours before the impact, the current best estimates predict that the spacecraft will strike a ridge slightly to the northeast of Shakespeare. View this image to see more details of the predicted impact site and time.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. In the mission's more than four years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER's highly successful orbital mission is about to come to an end, as the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury on April 30, 2015.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/overview-of-messenger-spacecrafts-impact-region-on-mercury
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Online Chris Bergin

Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #365 on: 04/30/2015 06:01 PM »
I can't find any references to some sort of live webcast for this (I know it would likely be some show from JPL, not much more) but if anyone sees something, please post - and we'll have a live thread for this.

Offline redliox

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #366 on: 04/30/2015 07:20 PM »
I can't find any references to some sort of live webcast for this (I know it would likely be some show from JPL, not much more) but if anyone sees something, please post - and we'll have a live thread for this.

Yeah I know today is supposed to be MESSENGER's last day.  I'm surprised it's almost mum news-wise.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
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Offline RLA

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #367 on: 04/30/2015 07:26 PM »
I can't find any references to some sort of live webcast for this (I know it would likely be some show from JPL, not much more) but if anyone sees something, please post - and we'll have a live thread for this.

Yeah I know today is supposed to be MESSENGER's last day.  I'm surprised it's almost mum news-wise.
Same here, there is really nowhere so far I know a real live webcast.

Also, MESSENGER should be impacted around this time, goodbye MESSENGER  :(

Online Chris Bergin

Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #368 on: 04/30/2015 11:26 PM »
An article using Chris Gebhardt coverage of some of its final achievements:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/messenger-ends-mercury-adventure-bang/

Offline catdlr

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #369 on: 05/01/2015 01:38 AM »
Fire and Ice: A MESSENGER Recap

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/30apr_messenger/

Quote
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have confirmed that MESSENGER slammed into the surface of Mercury on April 30th at 3:26 p.m. EDT. It had used the last of its propellant on April 24th and could no longer maintain a stable orbit. Traveling some 8,750 mph, the plummeting spacecraft made an unseen crater on the side of the planet facing away from Earth.

Tony De La Rosa

Offline robertross

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #370 on: 05/01/2015 02:17 AM »
Farewell MESSENGER, and thanks for the great science!

A shout out of thanks to the teams working this spacecraft, those at the receiving stations, and the scientists & workers collecting and analyzing the data. It's so awesome to explore the planets & bodies we so rarely frequent.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline mheney

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #371 on: 05/01/2015 03:22 PM »
I've got a question (and I don't see a discussion thread for this ...)

What causes MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury to decay?  My guess is something similar
to lunar mascons where the shape of the orbit changes until the perapsis intersects
the surface.  But I wouldn't call that "decay" ....
« Last Edit: 05/01/2015 03:23 PM by mheney »

Offline clongton

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #372 on: 05/01/2015 03:40 PM »
I've got a question (and I don't see a discussion thread for this ...)

What causes MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury to decay?  My guess is something similar
to lunar mascons where the shape of the orbit changes until the perapsis intersects
the surface.  But I wouldn't call that "decay" ....

Solar gravitational forces.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline clongton

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #373 on: 05/01/2015 03:43 PM »
Goodbye Messenger. You had an incredible run and provided some amazing science. I will miss the periodic reports of your mission. Mercury has been an interesting place for me since I was a boy. I am saddened to know that the planet is once again alone.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline jacqmans

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #374 on: 06/15/2015 03:22 PM »
To the human eye, Mercury may resemble a dull, grey orb but this enhanced-colour image from NASA’s Messenger probe, tells a completely different story. Swathes of iridescent blue, sandy-coloured plains and delicate strands of greyish white, create an ethereal and colourful view of our Solar System’s innermost planet.

These contrasting colours have been chosen to emphasise the differences in the composition of the landscape across the planet. The darker regions exhibit low-reflectance material, particularly for light at redder wavelengths. As a result, these regions take on a bluer cast.

The criss-crossing streaks across the disc of the planet show up in shades of light blue, grey and white. These regions take on a light blue hue for a different reason: their youthfulness. As material is exposed to the harsh space environment around Mercury it darkens, but these pale ‘rays’ are formed from material excavated from beneath the planet’s surface and sent flying during comparatively recent impacts. For this reason, they have retained their youthful glow.

The yellowish, tan-coloured regions are “intermediate terrain”. Mercury also hosts brighter and smoother terrain known as high-reflectance red plains. One example can be seen towards the upper right, where there is a prominent patch that is roughly circular. This is the Caloris basin, an impact crater thought to have been created by an asteroid collision during the Solar System’s early days.

On 30 April this year, Messenger’s four-year stint in orbit around Mercury came to an end when the probe ploughed into the surface. Messenger was launched in 2004 and in 2011 became the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury. It ended up exceeding its planned mission timeline by three years, by which time the spacecraft had completely depleted its fuel. The last of the fuel was used to position it within the gravitational pull of Mercury and the Sun, so it could delay as long as possible its inevitable plummet towards the surface – while continuing to beam back images – and go out with a bang.

The investigation of mysterious Mercury will be continued by ESA’s BepiColombo, due for launch in 2017. BepiColombo, a mission in partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), comprises two orbiters, ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, which will reach Mercury together in 2024. BepiColombo aims to gain an in-depth view of our Solar System’s least-explored terrestrial planet.

Credit: NASA / JHU Applied Physics Lab / Carnegie Inst. Washington
« Last Edit: 06/15/2015 03:23 PM by jacqmans »

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #375 on: 01/18/2018 07:45 PM »
NASA team studies middle-aged Sun by tracking motion of Mercury (Phys.org)

Quote
... the Sun's gravitational grip gradually weakens as our star ages and loses mass. Now, a team of NASA and MIT scientists has indirectly measured this mass loss and other solar parameters by looking at changes in Mercury's orbit.
...
The study began by improving Mercury's charted ephemeris—the road map of the planet's position in our sky over time. For that, the team drew on radio tracking data that monitored the location of NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft while the mission was active.

Old missions never really die!

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