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Mercury Messenger Orbiter

Mercury Messenger Orbiter

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Aviation/Space History Library on Oct 08, 2012
Copyright:Public Domain


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A NASA Discovery Mission
Mercury Orbit Insertion
March 18, 2011 UTC(March 17, 2011 EDT)
Media Contacts
NASA Headquarters
Policy/Program Management
Dwayne C. Brown(202) 358-1726Dwayne.C.Brown@nasa.gov
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Mission Management, Spacecraft Operations
Paulette W. Campbell(240) 228-6792 or (443) 778-6792Paulette.Campbell@jhuapl.edu
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Principal Investigator Institution
Tina McDowell(202) 939-1120tmcdowell@ciw.edu
Mission Overview
MESSENGER is a scientic investigationo the planet Mercury. UnderstandingMercury, and the orces that have shapedit, is undamental to understanding theterrestrial planets and their evolution. The MESSENGER (MErcury Surace, SpaceENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging)spacecrat will orbit Mercury ollowing threefybys o that planet. The orbital phase willuse the fyby data as an initial guide toperorm a ocused scientic investigation o this enigmatic world.MESSENGER will investigate keyscientic questions regarding Mercury’scharacteristics and environment duringthese two complementary mission phases.Data are provided by an optimized set o miniaturized space instruments and thespacecrat telecommunications system.MESSENGER will enter orbit about Mercuryin March 2011 and carry out comprehensivemeasurements or one Earth year. Orbitaldata collection concludes in March 2012.
Key Spacecrat Characteristics
Redundant major systems provide critical backup.
Passive thermal design utilizing ceramic-clothsunshade requires no high-temperature electronics.
Fixed phased-array antennas replace a deployablehigh-gain antenna.
Custom solar arrays produce power at sae operatingtemperatures near Mercury.
MESSENGER is designed to answer sixbroad scientifc questions:
Why is Mercury so dense?
What is the geologic history o Mercury?
What is the nature o Mercury’s magnetic eld?
What is the structure o Mercury’s core?
What are the unusual materials at Mercury’s poles?
What volatiles are important at Mercury?
MESSENGER provides:
Multiple fybys or global mapping, detailed study o high-prioritytargets, and probing o the atmosphere and magnetosphere.
An orbiter or detailed characterization o the surace,interior, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.
An education and public outreach program to produceexhibits, plain-language books, educational modules, andteacher training through partnerships.
Mission Summary
Launch: 3 August 2004Launch vehicle: Delta II 7925H-9.5Earth fyby: 2 August 2005Venus fybys (2): 24 October 2006,5 June 2007Mercury fybys (3): 14 January 2008,6 October 2008,29 September 2009Mercury orbit insertion: 17 March 2011 (EDT)18 March 2001 (UTC)

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