Author Topic: NASA- MESSENGER updates  (Read 123790 times)

Offline jacqmans

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NASA- MESSENGER updates
« on: 01/07/2008 06:49 PM »
MEDIA ADVISORY: M08-03

NASA TELECONFERENCE TO PREVIEW MESSENGER'S FLYBY OF MERCURY

WASHINGTON - NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST on
Thursday, Jan. 10, to preview the historic Jan. 14 spacecraft flight
past Mercury that will explore some of the last major
never-seen-before terrain in the inner solar system.

NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging
(MESSENGER) is the first mission sent to orbit the planet closest to
the sun. It will use Mercury's gravity for a critical assist needed
to keep the spacecraft on track for its orbit insertion around the
planet three years from now. During this month's Mercury pass the
probe's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology instruments
will take unprecedented images and make the first up-close
measurements of the planet since Mariner 10's third and final flyby
on March 16, 1975. The flyby also will gather essential data for
planning the overall mission. MESSENGER was launched on Aug. 3, 2004.
After flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury, it will start a year-long
orbital study of Mercury in March 2011.

Briefing participants:
- Marilyn Lindstrom, MESSENGER program scientist, NASA Headquarters,
Washington
- Sean Solomon, MESSENGER principal investigator, Carnegie Institution
of Washington
- Eric Finnegan, MESSENGER mission systems engineer, Johns Hopkins
University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
- Faith Vilas, MESSENGER participating scientist and director, MMT
Observatory at Mt. Hopkins, Ariz.

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should call
1-888-398-6118 and use the pass code "Mercury." International
journalists should call 1-210-234-0013. Audio of the teleconference
also will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Related images about the MESSENGER mission and flyby will be available
on the Web at:

http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

Offline jacqmans

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #1 on: 01/10/2008 05:04 PM »
RELEASE: 08-003

NASA SPACECRAFT TO MAKE HISTORIC FLYBY OF MERCURY

LAUREL, Md. - On Monday, Jan. 14, a pioneering NASA spacecraft will be
the first to visit Mercury in almost 33 years when it soars over the
planet to explore and snap close-up images of never-before-seen
terrain. These findings could open new theories and answer old
questions in the study of the solar system.

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging
spacecraft, called MESSENGER, is the first mission sent to orbit the
planet closest to our sun. Before that orbit begins in 2011, the
probe will make three flights past the small planet, skimming as
close as 124 miles above Mercury's cratered, rocky surface.
MESSENGER's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology
instruments will collect more than 1,200 images and make other
observations during this approach, encounter and departure. It will
make the first up-close measurements since Mariner 10 spacecraft's
third and final flyby on March 16, 1975. When Mariner 10 flew by
Mercury in the mid-1970s, it surveyed only one hemisphere.

"This is raw scientific exploration and the suspense is building by
the day," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate, Washington. "What will MESSENGER see? Monday
will tell the tale."

This encounter will provide a critical gravity assist needed to keep
the spacecraft on track for its March 2011 orbit insertion, beginning
an unprecedented yearlong study of Mercury. The flyby also will
gather essential data for mission planning.

"During this flyby we will begin to image the hemisphere that has
never been seen by a spacecraft and Mercury at resolutions better
than those acquired by Mariner 10," said Sean C. Solomon, MESSENGER
principal investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington. "Images
will be in a number of different color filters so that we can start
to get an idea of the composition of the surface."

One site of great interest is the Caloris basin, an impact crater
about 800 miles in diameter, which is one of the largest impact
basins in the solar system.

"Caloris is huge, about a quarter of the diameter of Mercury, with
rings of mountains within it that are up to two miles high," said
Louise Prockter, the instrument scientist for the Mercury Dual
Imaging System at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory in Laurel. "Mariner 10 saw a little less than half of the
basin. During this first flyby, we will image the other side."

MESSENGER's instruments will provide the first spacecraft measurements
of the mineralogical and chemical composition of Mercury's surface.
It also will study the global magnetic field and improve our
knowledge of the gravity field from the Mariner 10 flyby. The
long-wavelength components of the gravity field provide key
information about the planet's internal structure, particularly the
size of Mercury's core.

The flyby will provide an opportunity to examine Mercury's environment
in unique ways, not possible once the spacecraft begins orbiting the
planet. The flyby also will map Mercury's tenuous atmosphere with
ultraviolet observations and document the energetic particle and
plasma of Mercury's magnetosphere. In addition, the flyby trajectory
will enable unique particle and plasma measurements of the magnetic
tail that sweeps behind Mercury.

Launched Aug. 3, 2004, MESSENGER is slightly more than halfway through
its 4.9-billion mile journey. It already has flown past Earth once
and Venus twice. The spacecraft will use the pull of Mercury's
gravity during this month's pass and others in October 2008 and
September 2009 to guide it progressively closer to the planet's
orbit. Insertion will be accomplished with a fourth Mercury encounter
in 2011.

The MESSENGER project is the seventh in NASA's Discovery Program of
low-cost, scientifically focused space missions. The Applied Physics
Laboratory designed, built and operates the spacecraft and manages
the mission for NASA.

For more information about MESSENGER, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

Offline eeergo

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MESSENGER arriving at Mercury
« Reply #2 on: 01/10/2008 10:48 PM »

The first images from MESSENGER have started to arrive. Mercury is still a blurry crescent, but exciting images are ahead :) Time to keep an eye on this page (the mission's main flyby1 site)If there is going to be any kind of live coverage on NASA TV, like MRO's orbit insertion, maybe it would be a good idea to host a live event on the 14th.

There's also a very good article summarizing (but with good detail) the objectives of the mission, this flyby, and a good deal of illustrative images in this Planetary Society article... take a look at that tortuous path to get to Mercury in 2011!

-DaviD-

Offline Avron

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RE: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #3 on: 01/11/2008 03:53 AM »
Always amazed at the navigation - a flyby of 124 miles  after a 4.9-billion mile journey.. now that is accurate after "bouncing" off a few planets..

Offline kfsorensen

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RE: MESSENGER arriving at Mercury
« Reply #4 on: 01/11/2008 05:42 PM »
Quote
eeergo - 10/1/2008  5:48 PM

There's also a very good article summarizing (but with good detail) the objectives of the mission, this flyby, and a good deal of illustrative images in this Planetary Society article... take a look at that tortuous path to get to Mercury in 2011!

This is a very good example of where terrestrial analogies for travel fail us as we try to understand how to get to a place like Mercury.  Mercury is never terribly far away from Earth (1.0 AU +/- 0.4 AU) but it is about as difficult to get to Mercury as it is to get to Pluto.  This is because a spacecraft must shed so much of the 30 km/s-around-the-Sun velocity that they have when they start from Earth.  Using gravity assists from Venus make all the difference in shedding orbital energy, and "dropping" into a progressively lower orbit around the Sun to get to Mercury.  Furthermore, Mercury's orbit is rather tilted relative to the ecliptic plane, and so further gravity assists are needed to "crank the plane" enough to match velocities with Mercury as much as possible so as to minimize the final propulsive maneuver necessary for orbit capture.

It would be very interesting if APL showed the figures for the delta-V that would be needed for orbit capture at each of the Mercury flybys.  For this first one, it would be far beyond the capability of the propulsion system, but the next one will be better, and the final one will be just right.

Offline HIPAR

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RE: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #5 on: 01/11/2008 10:37 PM »

Getting closer  .. Jan 11

"Janhttp://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/sciencePhotos/pics/EN0108486541M.IMG.DLS.fits.jpg" />


Offline eeergo

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RE: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #6 on: 01/13/2008 01:24 PM »
REALLY close now... you can see surface features already. Just one day to close approach!
-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

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RE: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #7 on: 01/14/2008 02:33 PM »

We are 3 hours and a half away from closest approach, and this is the last released image, taken at 760000 km from Mercury with a resolution of 20 km/pixel.

There is a great timeline of events here, where you can follow what is happening in these crucial moments.

-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #8 on: 01/14/2008 03:13 PM »
MESSENGER should be now wrapping up the image-taking process for the Approach Movie. In an hour and a half comes the WAC color and UV imaging, the first of the fast observations around closest approach.
-DaviD-

Online Jeff Lerner

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #9 on: 01/14/2008 04:50 PM »
Is any of this flyby being covered live on NASA TV ??....When can we expect to see pictures taken during closest approach ???

Kind of surprised there isn't more live coverage and commentary on this site about this mission...especially at this stage...???

Online lbiderman

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #10 on: 01/14/2008 05:01 PM »
This site concentrates more on launch vehicles, and specially human spaceflight. More engineers than scientists.
"If I wanted to lead a bunch of robots that could only follow orders, I would have joined the Army!"
Captain Alvarez (Uruguay Marine Corps) in Congo (MONUC Deployment), March 2007

Online edkyle99

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #11 on: 01/14/2008 05:22 PM »
Quote
Wildthing - 14/1/2008  11:50 AM

Is any of this flyby being covered live on NASA TV ??....When can we expect to see pictures taken during closest approach ???

Kind of surprised there isn't more live coverage and commentary on this site about this mission...especially at this stage...???

We'll probably see something tomorrow, but I don't expect much.  Messenger has flown by Venus twice and the Earth once during its three-plus year mission so far, but APL has only posted 10 images and a half-dozen movies on its web site, encompassing all of these flybys, to date.  Such hoarding of the type of imaging that the general public would be most interested in is puzzling, especially when NASA science seems in need of a bit of self promotion.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline ApolloLee

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #12 on: 01/14/2008 05:23 PM »
Just more proof that when you think you know everything about our own neighborhood, we don't.

You realize we're about to see half the surface of a planet we've never seen in our solar system (Mariner only saw half of Mercury). We don;t know what we'll find. Who knows? Maybe a big "Hi, Mom" sign... (j/k)

Offline eeergo

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #13 on: 01/14/2008 05:41 PM »
We have passed the first optical and UV imaging sessions, the NAC approach mosaic and right now we are in the middle of another UV spectroscopic imaging. I forgot to say it before, but there's a nice animation to encompass with the actual events in the timeline here: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/movies/M1_Phase_B_final_text_small.mov where it shows graphically what parts of Mercury they're imaging in each stage.

Next event is total eclipse, where closest approach occurs. Following that, once in sunlight again, MESSENGER will perform a laser altimeter observation followed by lots of optical close-by pictures.
-DaviD-

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #14 on: 01/14/2008 05:49 PM »

Quote
edkyle99 - 14/1/2008  12:22 PM  
Quote
Wildthing - 14/1/2008  11:50 AM  Is any of this flyby being covered live on NASA TV ??....When can we expect to see pictures taken during closest approach ???  Kind of surprised there isn't more live coverage and commentary on this site about this mission...especially at this stage...???
 We'll probably see something tomorrow, but I don't expect much.  Messenger has flown by Venus twice and the Earth once during its three-plus year mission so far, but APL has only posted 10 images and a half-dozen movies on its web site, encompassing all of these flybys, to date.  Such hoarding of the type of imaging that the general public would be most interested in is puzzling, especially when NASA science seems in need of a bit of self promotion.   - Ed Kyle

Far cry from the circus that accompanied each of the flybys of the 70's. Combined lack of interest from the public, and downplaying of anything not VSE/manned exploration. The funds for web communication are tiny, and even thats not present even in a minimal way.

As to science hoarding, look at the difference between Huygens and Cassini - ESA still hasn't released all, and Cassini still is doing real-time releases. This is untypical of JHU APL, but typical of following current political trend. Sure hope this changes by the time we flyby the formerly known as planet Pluto ...


Online edkyle99

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #15 on: 01/14/2008 06:03 PM »
Messenger should have passed its nearest approach and have begun to draw away from Mercury now.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline eeergo

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RE: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #16 on: 01/14/2008 06:12 PM »
In the middle of the laser altimeter ranging. Shown in the picture is this instrument's path:
-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #17 on: 01/14/2008 06:14 PM »
Now entering the color photographing phase. Lots of close-by pictures taken in 4 intervals.
-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #18 on: 01/14/2008 06:18 PM »
Last wide angle camera observations for now, in the marked area. Now coming up in a Narrow Angle Camera Hi-Res imaging session.
-DaviD-

Offline collectSPACE

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Re: NASA- MESSENGER updates
« Reply #19 on: 01/14/2008 06:19 PM »
Quote
edkyle99 - 14/1/2008  12:22 PM

We'll probably see something tomorrow, but I don't expect much...

Imagery from the fly-by won't be uplinked back to Earth until (at least) 22 hours after the pass is over. Photographs will be released on Wednesday.

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