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New Mercury Mosaic Available

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This mosaic represents the best geodetic map of Mercury's surface to date. In combining MDIS (Mercury Dual Imaging System) images collected from three MESSENGER flyby's with those from Mariner 10 data from the 1970s, we now have a global mosaic of Mercury covering ~97.72% of the planet's surface.

More information with full resolution images.

Status Report: NASA MESSENGER Passes the Billion-Mile Mark!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On March 23 MESSENGER reached the one-billion mile mark, placing the spacecraft about one-fifth of the way toward its destination to orbit Mercury. On that same day, in the early morning hours (UTC), the spacecraft's distance from the Sun was about the same as the Earth's distance to the Sun. "One billion miles and the team and spacecraft are doing well," says Mission Operations Manager Mark Holdridge of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), where the spacecraft is operated and where it was designed and built.

The MESSENGER spacecraft performed its final "flop" maneuver for the mission on March 8, pointing the back side of the spacecraft to the Sun until June 2006. This rotation about the X-axis is performed whenever the solar distance increases beyond approximately 0.95 astronomical units (AU), nearly the distance between the Earth and the Sun. At this distance, the solar arrays do not generate enough power to operate all spacecraft components simultaneously, including instruments and heaters. The "flop" is performed to heat the back side of the spacecraft with the Sun. A "flip" maneuver reverses the effect of the "flop" maneuver by pointing the sunshade toward the Sun. This solar heating reduces the need for multiple onboard heaters, providing the necessary power until the spacecraft is closer to the Sun again. Previous flip, flop, and flip maneuvers were performed on March 8, 2005, June 14, 2005, and September 7, 2005. The spacecraft is scheduled to flip back toward the Sun on June 21.

Even though the MESSENGER spacecraft is years away from entering its final destination of orbiting Mercury, the mission Science Team is already very busy collecting scientific data and sharing it with the larger scientific community. Those plans and results are now available on the team's new Web site:

For a complete look at MESSENGER's journey through the inner solar system, visit the Mission Design section of the Web site at

To see where MESSENGER is now, visit

More: NASA -Status Report on MESSENGER

Mercury-Bound MESSENGER Launches from Cape Canaveral

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Messenger launch
Messenger Launch The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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NASA's MESSENGER -- set to become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury -- launched today at 2:15:56 a.m. EDT aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The approximately 1.2-ton (1,100-kilogram) spacecraft, designed and built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., was placed into a solar orbit 57 minutes after launch. Once in orbit, MESSENGER automatically deployed its two solar panels and began sending data on its status. Once the mission operations team at APL acquired the spacecrafts radio signals through tracking stations in Hawaii and California, Project Manager David G. Grant confirmed the craft was operating normally and ready for early system check-outs.

More: NASA - Mercury-Bound MESSENGER Launches from Cape Canaveral

Link: NASA - Mercury, Get Ready for a Close-Up