Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Messenger Nears Mercury


Messenger, originally uploaded by ddbsweasel.

Messenger made a flyby of Mercury this morning, or 14th January US Time.
Pictures will be uploaded soon.
From wikipedia, "The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (or MESSENGER for short) is a NASA mission, launched August 3, 2004, designed to study the characteristics and environment of Mercury from orbit. Specifically, the objectives of the mission are to characterize the chemical composition of Mercury's surface, the geologic history, the nature of the magnetic field, the size and state of the core, the volatile inventory at the poles, and the nature of Mercury's exosphere and magnetosphere over a nominal orbital mission of one Earth year. The mission will be the first to visit Mercury in over 30 years — the only previous probe to visit Mercury was Mariner 10, which completed its mission in March, 1975. MESSENGER will offer several vast improvements in scanning ability, with cameras that can resolve surface features down to just 60 feet across (18 meters) compared to the one mile (1.61 kilometer) resolution offered by Mariner 10. MESSENGER will also be the first probe to image the entire planet; Mariner 10 was only able to observe one hemisphere that was lit during its flybys.
In addition to being an acronym, MESSENGER was chosen as the probe's name because Mercury was the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology."

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