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Old 09-05-2008   #21
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Mercury MESSENGER - Maneuvering without fuel

No, the MESSENGER still has plenty of on-board propellant, but the Sun is providing a "thrust" of its own in the form of the solar winds and that is what the probe is using to shape its orbit...

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News
September 5, 2008
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

MESSENGER Sails on Sun’s Fire for Second Flyby of Mercury
On September 4, the MESSENGER team announced that it would not need to implement a scheduled maneuver to adjust the probe’s trajectory. This is the fourth time this year that such a maneuver has been called off. The reason? A recently implemented navigational technique that makes use of solar-radiation pressure (SRP) to guide the probe has been extremely successful at maintaining MESSENGER on a trajectory that will carry it over the cratered surface of Mercury for a second time on October 6.

SRP is small and decreases by the square of the distance away from the Sun. But, unlike rockets, so-called solar sailing requires no fuel. And although SRP’s thrust is small, it will continue as long as the Sun is shining and the “sail” is deployed, providing a continuous acceleration source for the probe.

MESSENGER’s mission designers and its guidance and control team at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., along with the navigation team, at KinetX, Inc., in Simi Valley, Calif., once viewed SRP as something of a challenge to overcome, particularly for the critical gravity-assist flybys – one of Earth, two of Venus, and three of Mercury – that the spacecraft would be executing to position it for Mercury orbit insertion in 2011.

“Because of the changing proximity to the Sun during MESSENGER’s cruise phase, the SRP varies from one to 11 times the value experienced at Earth,” explains APL’s Daniel J. O’Shaughnessy, MESSENGER’s Guidance and Control Lead Engineer. This variation in magnitude, as well as the attitude-dependent direction of the resulting disturbance force and torque, presents a significant challenge to mission designers and the guidance and control team, he says.

“The Mercury flybys are designed to take the probe within approximately 200 kilometers of the planet, so precision targeting is absolutely critical,” O’Shaughnessy says. Fly too low and the probe could crash into the planet. Fly too far away and MESSENGER might have to use its reserve fuel to correct for the acceleration loss. Either way, getting off target could jeopardize the mission.

SRP was seen as an impediment to precise targeting, until the first Mercury flyby in January 2008. About 26 days before that historic event, MESSENGER fired its thrusters to fine-tune its trajectory and aim for the 200-kilometer-altitude flyby point. Prior to the maneuver, the probe was on a course to miss the flyby aim point by more than 2,000 kilometers.

After the maneuver, the probe was still about 9.5 kilometers off from its target. “We still had one more opportunity for another trajectory-correction maneuver four days before the flyby, but we were able to skip it by solar sailing the spacecraft closer to the intended aim point,” explains APL’s Jim McAdams, who designed MESSENGER's trajectory.

Three days earlier than originally planned, the team tilted MESSENGER’s solar panels an extra 20 degrees away from the Sun. The resulting change in solar-array orientation moved the flyby altitude very close to the target aim point. Ultimately, MESSENGER missed its target altitude by only 1.4 kilometers. This targeting was “spectacular,” McAdams says.

The MESSENGER team has planned a more extensive use of this technique for the second Mercury flyby. “We’ve developed a process to use the SRP force as a control for the trajectory,” explains O’Shaughnessy. Using the knowledge developed from the first flyby, the team has developed a carefully planned sequence of probe-body attitude and solar-array orientations that, if all goes according to plan, should reduce the number of trajectory correction maneuvers needed in the future.

According to NASA, the only other visitor to Mercury used solar sailing. In 1974, when the Mariner 10 spacecraft ran low on attitude-control gas, its engineers angled the spacecraft’s solar arrays into the Sun and used solar radiation pressure for attitude control, and it worked. But MESSENGER’s use of the technique represents the first time that a spacecraft has successfully used solar sailing as a propulsion-free trajectory control method for the targeting of planetary flybys.


MESSENGER Team Member Highlight
While the scientists on the MESSENGER team decided what features to image, and the guidance and control team calculated the pointing of the instrument, Nori Laslo – at 29 one of the youngest members on the team – pieced together the commands to tell the camera precisely what to do. Read more about Laslo in the latest MESSENGER Team Highlight, available online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_a...ber_focus.html.

Mercury Does a Sunset Tango with Mars and Venus in September
Sky watchers using binoculars and scanning the horizon about 15 to 30 minutes after sunset on September 7 will see a Venus-Mercury-Mars grouping that looks like an isosceles triangle, with the Mars-Mercury and Mars-Venus sides measuring about 2.5 degrees in length and the Mercury-Venus side about 4 degrees. About 10 degrees to the upper left of the triangle will be Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo.

On September 18, Venus, Mercury, and Mars will form an equilateral triangle, whose sides are 4 degrees in length. And Spica will become a part of this arrangement, sitting a few degrees to the left of the triangle. Mercury will remain in the evening sky until October 6, and then reappear on November 25.

One Month to Go until Second Flyby of Mercury!
With just 30 days until MESSENGER’s second encounter with Mercury, the spacecraft remains safe and healthy, with all systems operating nominally. All instruments are on except for the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), which will be powered on September 25 and configured for the encounter. “The final command load for the upcoming flyby is now complete, has been reviewed by the team, and is being tested on the hardware simulator,” says APL’s Peter Bedini, MESSENGER’s project manager. “A successful simulation will represent the passing of the last major milestone in the encounter preparations.”

MESSENGER is about 55.95 million miles (90.04 million kilometers) from the Sun and 87.55 million miles (140.9 million kilometers) from Earth. At that distance, a signal from Earth reaches the spacecraft in 7.8 minutes. The spacecraft is moving around the Sun at 77.5 million miles (124.7 kilometers) per hour.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.
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Old 10-04-2008   #22
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

Here we come again!

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News

October 4, 2008

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

Closing in on Mercury
If you look at our “Where Is MESSENGER?” page, which displays the spacecraft's trajectory status, you'll see that we're right on Mercury's doorstep. MESSENGER's mission design and navigation teams met today at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to discuss the spacecraft's current trajectory to determine if a last-minute trajectory-correction maneuver would be needed.

“Early this morning, the navigation team delivered the final ephemeris update for the spacecraft prior to the flyby,” said APL’s Eric Finnegan, the MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer. “The data indicate that the last solar sailing attitude alternation implemented between Tuesday and Wednesday was a complete success. The current position estimate places the spacecraft within approximately 800 meters of the target! This is a phenomenal achievement for both the navigation and guidance and control teams.”

“The operations team has confirmed that the core Mercury command load sequence was onboard the spacecraft, and all subsystems and instruments are operating nominally,” Finnegan said. With less than two days to the flyby, MESSENGER is on target to encounter Mercury at an altitude of 200 kilometers (124 miles) on Monday, October 6, at approximately 4:41 a.m. EDT.

Over the next two days, the spacecraft will continue to gather optical navigation images approximately every eight hours, while the operations team monitors the spacecraft. You can view the latest one online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/...2&image_id=207.

The entire operations and engineering teams will gather in the operations center at APL on Sunday to make one last assessment of the spacecraft before the core encounter sequence begins, rotating the probe away from the Earth to view once again the closest planet to the Sun, revealing terrain never before seen by spacecraft!
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Old 10-06-2008   #23
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

Messenger's next close pass with Mercury is today:

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News
October 5, 2008
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

MESSENGER Instruments Take Aim
MESSENGER’s engineering and operations teams convened at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., this afternoon to confirm the health and readiness of the spacecraft. “All spacecraft sub-systems and instruments reported nominal operations indicating that MESSENGER is ready for its second encounter with Mercury,” said MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan of APL.

At 6:05 p.m. EDT the last bits of data from the spacecraft were received as it transitioned from high-gain downlink to beacon-only operations, and the spacecraft reoriented itself to begin science operations. Before turning away, however, the spacecraft returned a set of optical navigation images (available online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/...2&image_id=212) of the terrain not yet seen up-close by any spacecraft to whet our appetite regarding the discoveries to come.

For the next 10 hours or so, the spacecraft will take repetitive scans through Mercury’s comet-like anti-sunward tail, pausing now and then to take a color image and a high-resolution mosaic of Mercury with the Mercury Dual Imaging System instrument.

“The operations team is now preparing for the period of time about an hour prior to closest approach [at 4:40:21 a.m. EDT], when we will be transitioning our support from the Canberra ground station to the Madrid ground station that will capture the flyby,” Finnegan said. “High-gain communications with the spacecraft will be re-established on Tuesday at 1:14 a.m. EDT at approximately 52 kilobits per second, and playback of the data stored in the solid-state recorder will start approximately 30 minutes later.”

“MESSENGER is now on its own. The MESSENGER team is confident that our probe will carry out the full flyby command sequence, which was developed and thoroughly tested by the many dedicated engineers and scientists on the MESSENGER flight team,” said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “We all look forward with excitement to the flyby data set that we will start to glimpse Tuesday morning. We’ll be seeing at close range, for the first time, a region of Mercury larger in area than South America. Discoveries are just hours away.”

As the flyby continues toward closest approach, additional information and features will be available online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_flyby2.html, so check back frequently. Following the flyby, be sure to check back to see the latest released images and science results!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.
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"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein

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“It's fortunate for governments that people don't think." - Adolph Hitler

Sturkis akidit ("shit happens") - Latin


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Old 10-09-2008   #24
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MESSENGER sets record

There are a lot of in-text links in the following article, so I recommend you go to the link provided at the bottom of the article to see the images and animation they mention. Bolded portions of the following text are mine

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News
October 8, 2008
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

MESSENGER Sets Record for Accuracy of Planetary Flyby
By using solar sailing – rotating the spacecraft and tilting its solar panels to use the very small pressure from sunlight to alter the spacecraft’s trajectory – MESSENGER navigators have achieved a new record for the smallest miss distance between the intended and actual closest approach distance during a flyby of a planet other than Earth.

On October 6, 2008, the probe flew 199.4 kilometers (123.9 miles) above the surface of the planet. “Our goal was to fly 200 kilometers from the planet’s surface, and we missed that target by only 0.6 kilometers,” explained MESSENGER Mission Design Lead Jim McAdams, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

That’s pretty remarkable targeting, given that MESSENGER has travelled 668 million kilometers since its last deep space maneuver in March, McAdams says. “It’s as if we shot an arrow from New York to a target in Los Angeles – nudged it three times mid-stream with a soft breath – and arrived within the width of the arrow’s shaft at the target.

New Mercury Images Available
The MESSENGER Science Team has released five new images from the probe’s second flyby of Mercury. When the spacecraft flew by Mercury in January, one of the more dramatic images captured was of the Vivaldi crater at sunset. Two days ago, MESSENGER’s cameras took this image of Vivaldi at sunrise.

This striking view of Mercury, taken about 54 minutes before closest approach, shows the northern portion of the sunlit, crescent-shaped planet seen as the spacecraft approached Mercury. As MESSENGER continued toward Mercury, the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) captured this image of previously unseen smooth plains.

The MDIS Wide Angle Camera snapped this image, part of a high-resolution color mosaic of the planet, just 8 minutes and 47 seconds after the MESSENGER spacecraft passed above Mercury’s surface. The probe’s closest approach occurred over the dark night side of Mercury, as can be seen in this animation, so the MDIS cameras had to wait until the sunlit surface was visible before beginning to image while departing from the planet.

This image shows a view of Mercury as imaged by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s, alongside a view of the planet with the gaps largely filled in by MESSENGER during the recent flyby. Filling in this gap will help the Science Team to use both Mariner 10 and MESSENGER data to characterize the diverse geological processes that shaped the surface of Mercury over time.

Additional information and features from this encounter are available online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_flyby2.html. Check back frequently to see the latest released images and science results!
Let me use this opportunity (isn't that on Mars? ) to say once again that this incredible accuracy with which the team was able to maneuver around Mercury would have been impossible IF, and only IF, that imaginary "Planet X" (AKA Nibiru) actually existed. Same goes for the pinpoint accuracy the New Horizons Pluto mission demonstrated during the Jupiter encounter last year (which, BTW was far far more critical than what was done here on Mercury because an error of just a few thousandths of a percent would have meant either a burnup of the NH probe in Jupiter's atmosphere or being thrown so off-course there would have been no hope of recovering it) and the continued perfect course it is on as it heads towards Pluto. PLANET X DOESN'T EXIST!!
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“It's fortunate for governments that people don't think." - Adolph Hitler

Sturkis akidit ("shit happens") - Latin


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Old 10-29-2008   #25
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

Here's the latest from the folks at MESSENGER Mission Control. I would have provided you with a link, but this particular email didn't come with one...


Quote:
For Immediate Release
October 29, 2008
Media Contact:
Paulette Campbell
(240) 228-6792
Paulette.campbell@jhuapl.edu

MESSENGER Reveals More “Hidden” Territory on Mercury



Gliding over the battered surface of Mercury for the second time this year, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has revealed even more previously unseen real estate on the innermost planet, sending home hundreds of photos and measurements of its surface, atmosphere, and magnetic field.

The probe flew by Mercury shortly after 4:40 a.m. EDT on October 6, 2008, completing a critical gravity assist to keep it on course to orbit Mercury in 2011 and unveiling 30 percent of Mercury’s surface never before seen by spacecraft.

“The region of Mercury’s surface that we viewed at close range for the first time this month is bigger than the land area of South America ,” says Sean Solomon, MESSENGER principal investigator and the director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington . “When combined with data from our first flyby and from Mariner 10, our latest coverage means that we have now seen about 95% of the planet.”

MESSENGER’s science instruments worked feverishly through the flyby – cameras snapped more than 1,200 pictures of the surface, while topography beneath the spacecraft was profiled with the laser altimeter. “We have completed an initial reconnaissance of the solar system’s innermost planet, enabling us to gain a global view of Mercury’s geological history and internal magnetic field geometry for the first time,” Solomon continues.

The comparison of magnetosphere observations from MESSENGER’s first flyby in January with data from the probe’s second pass has provided key new insight into the nature of the planet’s internal magnetic field and revealed new features of Mercury’s magnetosphere.

“The previous flybys by MESSENGER and Mariner 10 provided data only on Mercury’s eastern hemisphere,” explains Brian Anderson, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. “The most recent flyby gave us our first measurements on Mercury’s western hemisphere, and with them we discovered that the planet’s magnetic field is highly symmetric.”

“This seemingly simple result is significant for the planet’s internal field because it implies that the dipole is even more closely aligned with the planet’s rotation axis than we could conclude before the second flyby,” says Anderson, who is deputy project scientist. “Even though the rigorous analyses of these data are ongoing, we expect that this result will allow us to limit the theories of planetary magnetic field generation to those that predict a strongly rotationally aligned moment.”

The Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) observed the extended tail, night side, and day side regions of Mercury’s thin atmosphere – known as an exosphere – searching for emission from sodium, calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen atoms.

“The MASCS observations of magnesium are the first-ever detection of this species in Mercury’s exosphere,” explains MESSENGER participating scientist Ron Vervack of APL. Preliminary analysis of the sodium, calcium, and magnesium observations suggests that the spatial distributions of these three species are different and that the distribution of sodium during the second flyby is noticeably different from that observed during the first flyby.

“The spatial distributions of sodium, calcium, and magnesium are a reflection of the processes that release these species from Mercury’s surface,” Vervack adds. “Now that we were finally able to measure them simultaneously, we have an unprecedented window into the interaction of Mercury’s surface and exosphere.”

The probe’s Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) measured the planet’s topography, allowing scientists, for the first time, to correlate high-resolution topography measurements with high-resolution images.

“During the last flyby, the Mercury Laser Altimeter acquired a topographic profile in a hemisphere of the planet for which there were no spacecraft images,” explains Maria Zuber, MESSENGER co-investigator and head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “During the second flyby, in contrast, altimetry was collected in regions where images from MESSENGER and Mariner 10 are available, and new images were obtained of the region sampled by the altimeter in January. These topographic measurements now improve considerably the ability to interpret surface geology.”

Now that MESSENGER’s cameras have imaged more than 80 percent of Mercury, it is clear that, unlike the Moon and Mars, the planet lacks hemispheric-scale geologic differences. “On the Moon, dark volcanic plains are concentrated on the near side and are nearly absent from the far side,” says MESSENGER co-investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University. “On Mars, the southern hemisphere consists of older, cratered highlands, whereas the northern hemisphere consists of younger lowlands. Mercury’s surface is more homogeneously ancient and heavily cratered, with large extents of younger volcanic plains lying within and between giant impact basins.”

Color imaging also shows that Mercury’s crust is compositionally heterogeneous. “Although definitive compositional interpretations cannot yet be made, the distribution of different components varies both across the surface and with depth – Mercury’s crust is more analogous to a marbled cake than a layered cake,” Robinson adds. “Once MESSENGER’s suite of science instruments returns a host of data from the orbital phase of the mission, compositions will be determined for the newly discovered color units.”

“The first two Mercury flybys have returned a rich dividend of new observations,” says Solomon. “But some of the observations we are most eager to make – such as the chemical make-up of Mercury’s surface and the nature of its enigmatic polar deposits – will not be possible until MESSENGER begins to orbit the innermost planet. Moreover, the very dynamic nature of Mercury’s interaction with its interplanetary environment has taught us that continuous observations will be required before we can claim to understand our most sunward sister planet.”
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Old 10-29-2008   #26
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008...r_Mercury.html

There ya are and thanks.
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Old 12-04-2008   #27
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Mercury MESSENGER News 12 4 2008

Here's the latest on the MM probe's course corrections:

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News
December 4, 2008
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

Deep-Space Maneuver Positions MESSENGER for Third Mercury Encounter

The Mercury-bound spacecraft MESSENGER completed the first part of a two-part deep-space maneuver today, providing the expected 90% of the velocity change needed to place the spacecraft on course to fly by Mercury for the third time in September 2009. A 4.5-minute firing of its bi-propellant engine increased the probe’s speed relative to the Sun by 219 meters per second (489 miles per hour) to a speed of about 30.994 kilometers per second (69,333 miles per hour).

MESSENGER was 237.9 million kilometers (147.8 million miles) from Earth when today’s maneuver began at 3:30 p.m. EST. Mission controllers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., verified the start of the maneuver about 13 minutes, 14 seconds later, when the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA’s Deep Space Network tracking station outside Goldstone, Calif.

“It was a perfect maneuver,” said APL’s Eric Finnegan, MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer. “Initial data analysis indicates an extremely accurate maneuver execution. After sifting through all the post-burn data I expect we will find ourselves right on target.” The remaining 10% of this deep-space-maneuver’s velocity change will be imparted to the spacecraft during the second part, which will occur on December 8, 2008. The total planned velocity change is 247 meters per second.

MESSENGER is travelling at 109,435 kilometers per hour (68,864 miles per hour) relative to the Sun. One final deep-space maneuver on November 29, 2009, will target the probe for Mercury orbit insertion in March 2011, making it the first spacecraft to orbit the planet closest to the Sun.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MESSENGER Web Tool Wins Association Award

The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals (AMCP) has awarded the MESSENGER Mercury Flyby Visualization Tool a “Gold” award in the “Web interactive capabilities” category of its MarCom Awards, an international competition for marketing and communication professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of marketing and communication programs and print, visual and audio materials.

The Web-based tool, available at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/encounters/, offers a unique opportunity to see simulated views of Mercury from MESSENGER’s perspective, during approach, flyby, and departure, or in real-time (as the observations actually occur).
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Old 12-05-2008   #28
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

I'm glad course corrections get at least one person excited
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Old 12-05-2008   #29
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

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Old 03-10-2011   #30
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

Since MESSENGER has been following a very long spiraling path towards Mercury and there hasn't been very much news to forward while the probe isn't anywhere near its final destination, this thread has gone stale but I haven't forgotten about it! Next week, MESSENGER will finally arrive in position to make the final deceleration into permanent orbit around Mercury. Coincidentally, at the far other end of the Solar System, on that same day (March 17), the New Horizons Pluto probe will cross the orbit of Neptune.

Here's the press release put out by the MESSENGER news center:


Quote:
Dwayne Brown

Headquarters, Washington

202-358-1726

dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov



Paulette Campbell

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

240-228-6792

paulette.campbell@jhuapl.edu



MEDIA ADVISORY: 11-052



NASA Media Telecon Previews First Spacecraft To Orbit Mercury



WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 15, to discuss the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.



NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER, will enter orbit at approximately 9 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17. The spacecraft has conducted more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system for the past 6.6 years.



Media teleconference participants are:

· Andy Calloway, MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md.

· Carl Engelbrecht, MESSENGER Propulsion Subsystem Lead, APL

· Sean Solomon, MESSENGER Principal Investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington



To participate and to receive dial-in instructions, reporters must contact Steve Cole at stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov or 202-358-0918.



During the briefing, related images will be available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/me...OITelecon.html.



Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio.



At 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday, March 16, NASA experts will hold a one-hour, live Web chat to answer questions about MESSENGER's orbital insertion. The chat window will open at 9:30 a.m. To participate, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/messenger_chat.html.



At 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17, APL and The Planetary Society will co-host a public lecture in APL’s Kossiakoff Center, featuring MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph L. McNutt, Jr. RSVP online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/RSVP/. This event will also be broadcast via live Webcast.



For more information about the MESSENGER Mission Mercury Orbit Insertion, go online to http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_orbit.html.
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Old 03-16-2011   #31
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Closer and closer...

Here's a C&P of the latest news release:

Quote:
MESSENGER On Autopilot for Orbit Insertion


MESSENGER is now on autopilot, faithfully executing a detailed set of instructions required to achieve its historic rendezvous with Mercury tomorrow night.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, all attitude re-orientations planned to control the probe’s momentum accumulation and adjust its trajectory were successfully completed. MESSENGER turned to point its high-gain antenna back to Earth for the final stretch of continuous data monitoring until just before the start of Mercury orbit insertion.

The operations team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., has monitored on-board commanded vehicle re-configurations and has sent pre-defined ground commands to establish configurations for the burn.

The science instrument suite has recorded the last set of data for the cruise portion of the mission, and all instruments have been turned off. Although not in an operational mode, the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer has been left in its stand-by mode to ensure thermal stability of the delicate cryogenic cooler. The instruments will be tuned back on as part of orbital commissioning beginning on March 23.

“The navigation team is reporting that there has been little change from the previous targeting estimates, so the spacecraft is on the glide-slope for final approach to Mercury,” says MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan.
Wow. I didn't realize until I read this that the MESSENGER device was equipped with cryogenic instruments. That must have been quite an engineering challenge to come up with a system that can preserve super cold liquid refrigerant in a machine designed to operate so close to the sun.
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Old 03-17-2011   #32
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Less than 6 hours to go...

Ahem. Yeah, its another C&P:

Quote:
MESSENGER Mission News
March 17, 2011
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

MESSENGER Orbit Maneuver a "Go"

With less than six hours to go, MESSENGER is on schedule for its 8:45 p.m. (EDT) rendezvous with Mercury. “The command sequence containing instructions to maneuver MESSENGER into orbit about Mercury is now executing, the science instruments have been turned off, and the propulsion system is conditioned for its big show this evening,” says MESSENGER Project Manager Peter Bedini.

The MESSENGER team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., expects confirmation of orbit by 10 p.m. (EDT).

Coverage of the mission will begin at 8 p.m. (EDT) tonight at APL’s Kossiakoff Auditorium. The event will include a mission overview by MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph L. McNutt, Jr., and live commentary by other scientists and engineers. The event will be broadcast live via Webcast at http://mfile.akamai.com/7111/live/re...asx?bkup=22194. Note: This webcast cannot be viewed using Safari browser. Mozilla Firefox is recommended when viewing this webcast on a Mac.
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Sturkis akidit ("shit happens") - Latin


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Old 03-17-2011   #33
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Re: Mercury MESSENGER News

Two hours from now!!

If I wasn't going out tonight I might watch this broadcast live.

I remember when Cassini arrive at Saturn. I watched that live. And I watched the deployment of the Huygens Titan probe.
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